Posted September 25, 2017

Your Post-EHR Conversion Checklist to Maximize Patient Access to Care

Part two in a two-part series
By Tim Dobkins, Managing Director, Huron

In part one of this Insight series, we shared some pre-EHR conversion “must-do” items that can help ease the frustrations that may occur with EHR implementations. This second part shares some post-planning tips to ensure the product is fully functional and utilized properly.

Considerations for Post-EHR Conversion

1. Enhance access metric monitoring

Many EHR's have limited out-of-the-box data available to monitor the various metrics required to truly capture the whole access performance picture. Additionally, standard EHR operational use is required to collect accurate performance measurements.

For example, cancellation reason codes are often not monitored for consistent use by all front-line employees, and thus using cancellation data to define root cause and solutions is limited.

2. Continue access accountability forums. 

Along with the newly defined access performance metrics, your organization should clearly define expectations for who in the organization is responsible for monitoring metric outcomes for each measure, as well as establishing forums for cross department collaboration to improve outcomes.

For example, a central scheduling department is responsible for quickly converting requests for service (referrals) into appointments. However, if practice leadership is not helping to ensure clean template availability, the central scheduling team will be limited in its ability to schedule patients accurately and timely.

3. Automate (where possible) access guidelines within the EHR

You may find that fully automating the access guidelines discussed above is simply too much to accomplish during the system conversion timeline, and thus some features/functions will need to be pushed to post-conversion optimization in the coming months. During this period, it is critical to continue to optimize and enhance the systems features to ensure that front line access staff have technology that supports automation and ease of completing access functions. Actions you can take to refine or expand some features post go-live are as follows:

  • Leverage the EHR’s referral management workflow capabilities to better route patients, understand outcomes and close communication loops.
  • Enhance scheduling protocols, and pursue further template optimization.
  • Document and execute service recovery strategies more broadly.

4. Establish consistent new provider and resource onboarding processes. 

As your organization continues to grow post-conversion it is critical to ensure processes are in place to build all access functionality consistently for new physicians. Allowing templates, protocols, visit types, etc. to become variable over time will limit access for patients and cause errors in ensuring the patient gets to the right provider at the right time.

Comprehensive system conversion takes time and thoughtful planning. Many organizations spend a sizeable amount of their yearly budget on new software, not just to comply with Meaningful Use, but also to advance patient experiences and improve working conditions for their employees and providers. By focusing on patient care and access, the path to EHR optimization can continue to drive measurable and meaningful improvements in outcomes.

Tim Dobkins is a managing director at Huron and works with health systems and medical groups across the country to improve their financial and patient access performance through operational enhancement and performance accountability. Tim helps providers optimize and/or build new centralized call center operations for multiple access functions including scheduling, authorization procurement, insurance review, financial counseling, preregistration, pre-service patient interaction, and POS Collections.

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