How to Improve Clinical Satisfaction with the EHR

Posted on: Friday, November 13, 2020 By: KorchekStaff

OrthoVirginia bolstered clinicians’ experience with the technology — and the benefits are increasingly being realized.

The electronic health record is one of the largest technology investments for most healthcare systems; however, providers seldom take advantage of the deeper integrations that can improve financial results and clinical effectiveness.

“The EHR has been a significant change for clinicians for a long time now,” Robert Cash, vice president of provider relations at KLAS Research, said in a presentation this week at the CHIME20: Digital Recharge virtual conference. “If we can do that more effectively, it really makes a difference.”

Leaders from OrthoVirginia expanded on this notion, offering insights into how their organization was able to move the needle with regards to clinical satisfaction with the EHR.

From implementing training, support and governance programs to encouraging more robust communication and physician engagement, here’s a look at what this organization did to bolster overall EHR satisfaction.

Build Better Relationships with Physicians to Impact Satisfaction

For OrthoVirginia, the need for changes to its EHR became apparent when issues with the system began to reach the boardroom. “When you hear complaints at the board meeting, that is not good,” Terri Ripley, CIO for the focused orthopedic group, said at CHIME20.

At first, Ripley’s team attempted to implement a ticketing system for physicians to voice their issues and concerns, but engagement from the physicians simply wasn’t there, she said. With help from the KLAS Arch Collaborative in 2017, however, the Virginia-based health system began to get a real understanding of how its physicians truly felt by conducting an EHR satisfaction survey.

“We did our first survey, and what we found was that physicians were not as happy as we wanted them to be,” said Ripley.

Based on the results, Ripley and her team decided to create the Provider Support Specialist program, intended to drive proactive service while creating a relationship between the support specialists and the care providers themselves. Those relationships are proving to be the key to the program’s success.

Create a Mold That’s ‘Plastic’

Dr. H.C. Eschenroeder Jr., chief medical information officer for OrthoVirginia, said at the conference that he initially had reservations about the program due to his own experience with orthopedic surgeons.

“Orthopedic surgeons tend to be fixers — you have to understand the type of people that you are dealing with,” said Eschenroeder. “But the provider support specialists almost had an innate sense as to how to approach these people.”

Today, the specialists have a real sense of purpose in the organization, Ripley said. They’re helping to complete a variety of EHR support tasks — from onboarding and training clinicians on new system functionalities to working directly with OrthoVirginia’s EHR provider, Epic, to relay messages concerning improvements — as well as offering clinical staff recommendations on how to better use the software.

Taking things a step further, Eschenroeder said that the support specialist team is heavily focused on making sure that the EHR isn’t too difficult to use and that it fits within the provider’s workflow. These systems, he added, should really be “somewhat plastic.”

“If the EHR is breaking your thinking pattern, it’s hurting you,” he said. “We know that if we are not sensitive to the different situations in the different offices, we can break that functionality there too.”

While the team at OrthoVirginia continues to focus on these and other ways to improve the EHR, the organization is already seeing an upward trend in satisfaction. Eschenroeder said that while not everyone is happy all the time, the steps they’ve taken so far to enhance clinicians’ experience are paying off.

“We have a new CEO, and he came to me and said, ‘I’m really surprised. I’m not hearing a lot of complaints about the EHR,’” said Eschenroeder. “So, we’re really proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish.”

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