EHR consultants often hear an overarching sentiment: ‘Our EHR no longer meets our needs.’ Or ‘It doesn’t fit the way our health system does business.’ Or perhaps, ‘Our EHR is holding us back.’
At Pivot Point Consulting, we hear these statements over and over again from clients, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health systems need a more robust telehealth platform or the ability to perform predictive analytics to align staff with demand, for example.
This is when you know it’s time for EHR optimization—to improve what you’ve got or implement something entirely different.
This major change isn’t a decision most health systems take lightly because it requires time and resources regardless of the path you choose. It can be expensive to maintain multiple systems and interfaces; however, it can be equally as time- and resource-intensive to rollout an entirely new EHR. Also, change is a hard pill to swallow—especially in an industry that has seen more change in the last couple of years than most.
EHR optimization is likely one of many health IT investments that today’s healthcare leaders must consider. However, there’s no doubt it’s a critical one. An optimized EHR has many benefits: It can meet patient expectations and enhance a healthcare organization’s digital health strategy. It can improve staff production and satisfaction, leading to greater retention during a time when most organizations face a staffing crisis. It can improve compliance and even potentially reduce costs.
The good news is that there are many federal and state grants available to help offset costs related to cybersecurity improvements, networking, applications and systems improvements and more. The other good news is that an EHR consultant can help steer healthcare organizations in the right direction and set them on the path for success.
Not sure what to expect when engaging a consultant in an EHR optimization project? Following are six questions an EHR consultant can help you answer:
- What are our top 10 pain points? Using Socratic questioning, a consultant can help healthcare organization identify what they truly need in the short- and long-term. They can help distinguish between must-have vs. nice-to-have vs. optional features so organizations can remain laser-focused on selecting the option that yields the biggest return on investment (ROI).
- Does it make sense to implement a new system or use what we have and improve it? This is a highly-complex question with many moving parts. Here’s one important consideration: What is the current system’s future roadmap, and will it serve the healthcare organization in the long-run? If the answer is no, switching to a new EHR might be the best option. However, there are other reasons to switch as well. For example, the healthcare organization may want to implement the same EHR as its surrounding providers because it wants to improve care coordination, a goal that can lead to improved outcomes and lower costs. Alternatively, if improving the existing system is a viable option, healthcare organizations must consider this critical question: Do we have enough staff—particularly project managers—to improve what we have? Or might we need to hire externally?
- What time and resources will be required? Regardless of the specific path an organization takes for EHR optimization, time and resources are required. Not all of the time and resources will be obvious, and a consultant can help uncover potential hidden costs and snags.
- How can we obtain provider and staff buy-in? An EHR consultant can provide change management strategies that ensure everyone is on board with new workflows and processes. This includes ensuring role-based training is not overlooked.
- How will we define and measure return on investment (ROI)? Your organization might have a laundry list of goals it hopes to accomplish, but a consultant can help narrow down this list to identify the most impactful metrics and goals.
- How have other healthcare organizations handled similar challenges and obstacles? An EHR consultant can provide a big-picture view as well as share best practices and national trends. This helps leaders avoid a myopic view that can compromise success. A consultant can also connect different organizations so they can learn what worked best in certain circumstances and why.
Forming a strategic partnership
Working with a consultant around EHR optimization goes far beyond the actual optimization exercise itself. A consultant can also provide project management support during and after the optimization, assist with managed services and provide other strategic assistance.
Pivot Point Consulting’s EHR optimization services deliver hands-on consulting and methodologies to drive system adoption, improve clinical workflows and boost return on investment for your EHR software resulting in effective processes and a better clinician and patient experience. Learn more about how we can optimize your EHR solutions today.