EHR Optimization as a Bridge to Population Health Management

Author: Teri Hart, RN, Director, Advisory Services

In the quest to meet value-based care, population health and quality reporting goals, healthcare leaders face an array of avenues and tactics. While the strategies differ, one constant in virtually all efforts to bring structure to new care delivery models is the improved use of technology and systems, and the troves of data they store and transmit.

Analytics has a pivotal role in meeting healthcare’s triple aim of reducing the per capita cost of care, improving patient experience (including quality and satisfaction) and improving population health. Without the support of the clinicians using these technologies and the information they hold, however, it is difficult to succeed. This has prompted some healthcare organizations to champion a quadruple aim that also seeks to improve the work life of healthcare providers.

To develop and execute on a quadruple – or even triple aim – healthcare leadership teams must answer the question:

How can our organization capture the information needed to deliver effective, data-driven care in a manner that benefits patient outcomes and compliments provider workflows?

Through a disciplined EHR optimization methodology, a structured plan, and input from providers and clinicians on goals and practical ways to meet those goals, it is possible to adopt a data-capture care strategy that minimizes impact on provider workflow while maximizing return on reimbursement.

Optimization in Action
Consider how EHR Optimization can aid population health management efforts.

Many healthcare organizations are analyzing patient data to identify high-risk and/or high-utilization patient populations that could pose savings opportunities if their care interventions are migrated from high-cost emergency department and inpatient settings to preventive and primary care, but how many are truly looking up-stream at how the configuration and use of the EHR impacts their success?

When developing and deploying an organization’s population health goals and identifying target patient populations, consider how your organization can engage and support your clinicians in this evolution. What clinical workflow supportive functionality is available in your EHR to aid and prompt care team members to ask the right patients the right questions, proactively screen, and implement low-cost interventions to quickly put population health management into action?  How can these opportunities be implemented without disruption of patient care flow?

Here are specific strategies for building an EHR Optimization plan targeted toward enabling population health while supporting your providers:

  • Engage your clinicians early on. Including your providers and allowing them to tell you how they work and what will work for them to support your effort makes a successful initiative.
  • Integrate with established workflows when possible. Data entered correctly into your EHR supports your analytics needs. You will depend upon your providers to capture this for you.
  • Prioritize your target patient populations. Which initiatives will yield the highest return? Start with a single impactful goal and fine tune processes, measurement and engagement around it.
  • Ensure consistency in design. Provide consistency in data standards and naming conventions. This can go a long way to eliminate redundancy in documentation for clinicians. This is particularly important when planning to expand your program

EHRs and supporting technologies are an incredible data source and the key to value-based care and population health management success. EHR implementation and optimization strategies that keep the quadruple-aim top-of-mind can support organizational initiatives while enhancing, or at very least not burdening, clinical workflows of your EHR users.  Engaging your end users in the process inspires a collaborative, supportive environment while encouraging a successful outcome to organizational directives.