Five Ways to Increase the Value of Your EMR
By Jason Friedman
Jason Friedman is VP of sales for EVideon of Grand Rapids, MI.
In a 2021 survey by Stoltenberg Consulting, 59% of hospital CIOs said getting the most out of their IT purchases, such as their EMR, is the biggest financial goal for next year. EMRs and EHRs have given rise to digital transformation in healthcare, and there’s no denying that adopting these tools has forever changed the way clinicians and healthcare staff do their jobs.
Yet, our industry is at a tipping point. The field of nursing is in crisis. Clinicians are burned out. There is a widening gap in health inequity. Trends in healthcare consumerism are putting increased pressure on a strained system. Never has it been so clear that it is time to think differently about the future of healthcare technology.
How can we do this?
Deliver patient-centered care by personalizing the patient journey
The first step is to shift the focus of the EMR back to the patient by presenting information in an understandable and meaningful manner.
A digital whiteboard, when integrated with your EMR, is a centralized information hub for patients, families, and care teams, providing real-time health information that will improve care coordination as well as the overall care experience. Integration with the EMR and other installed technologies allows hospitals to personalize the patient journey with tailor messaging and targeted patient education.
In a recent research study, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston, one of the top-ranked hospitals in the US, partnered with a consortium of companies to research the impact of in-room digital whiteboards on communication and patient satisfaction in the emergency department. The study showed that 96% of participants preferred a room with a digital whiteboard as it improved communication and helped them feel more informed throughout their stay and prior to discharge.
In addition, 70% said the digital whiteboard helped them better understand what was happening during their stay. Beyond keeping patients informed, the whiteboards display patient information seamlessly, leaving little room for human error and allowing clinicians to focus on providing quality care.
Automate clinical workflows to enhance the clinician experience
We all know how overloaded and stressed nurses are, especially during this pandemic. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association found that higher EMR usability scores are associated with lower odds of burnout, and those usability scores have sharply declined. Specifically, researchers found that among 1,285 nurses who responded to a November 2017 survey about usability and burnout, the mean nurse-rated EMR usability score was 57.6. A 2019 study by the Mayo Clinic also supported that finding.
It’s time to make technology work for both patients and the care team. By integrating nutrition services, real-time location systems (RTLS), room controls, and other technology elements, you can automate many administrative tasks. For example, when a digital whiteboard is integrated with the EMR, nurses no longer need to manually update dry erase boards (or chase down a working marker). Advanced technology can turn the patient room into an extension of the care team, enabling clinicians to better focus on direct patient care.
Increase patient satisfaction
Patients naturally feel a sense of unease in a hospital. They’re away from home and feeling a loss of control, all while being worried about their health. Giving patients the ability to control elements in their room such as room temperature, shades, and lights, through an integration with building control systems, is a small thing that can have a big impact.
Giving control and self service back to patients can positively impact their overall rating and likelihood to recommend the hospital on their HCAHPS survey. For example, letting patients order their meals from their TV or other device – through an integration with nutrition services solutions such as Computrition, CBORD, or Morrison – puts patients in control, reminding them of the concierge service they get at home from apps like DoorDash and GrubHub.
A personalized, end-to-end experience and environment can enhance satisfaction. A television that greets patients by name as they enter the room provides easily accessible entertainment (movies and streaming TV), enables video visits with loved ones, and displays relaxation content that helps with stress and sleep can all contribute to a supportive patient environment.
In addition, announcing care team members on the TV as they enter the room, via RTLS integration, provides patients with a sense of security that the person in the room should actually be there.
Hospitals can also automate non-clinical service requests. From their room, patients can request clean linens, a visit from the chaplain, or other available hospital services.
Lastly, hospitals can keep a pulse on patient sentiment using pop-up surveys that unobtrusively collect patient feedback while they enjoy entertainment or education. Real-time insights can be automatically routed to key departments for service recovery, ensuring dissatisfiers don’t turn into HCAHPS issues.
Inform and protect patients, staff and visitors
Technology innovation can have a major impact on patient safety and workforce safety initiatives. One way to reduce harm and avoid preventable errors is using the EMR as the single source of truth to keep team members informed and aware of critical patient information.
Digital door signs that are integrated with the EMR can display critical safety information just outside the patient room. Real-time access to accurate health information can not only save staff time by eliminating the need to log into the EMR, but it also keeps them informed of any and all precautions or life-saving steps they may need to take.
Digitizing broad communications is another great way to keep patients, staff, and visitors safe. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals have leveraged digital signage to automatically disseminate crucial information like hand washing protocols, visitation policies, and other urgent COVID-19 related information.
Automating and digitizing manual processes reduces human error and empowers care care teams by giving them instant access to accurate, reliable, and real-time patient information when they need it most.
Manage your digital front door strategy
Rising trends in healthcare consumerism continue to push hospitals to integrate new technologies and enhance existing technologies to do more. Collecting real-time patient feedback and creating meaningful connections with your patients wherever they are, whenever they need you will help to build brand loyalty and drive utilization.
A tech-enabled experience before, during, and after the hospital stay can not only yield better health outcomes, but also influence hospital choice. Let patients complete forms prior to admission, and help them prepare for a visit and care post-discharge by sending patient care guidelines and education directly to a personal device. Delivering a care experience that is more convenient, meaningful, and effective for patients and their families will make your organization the preferred choice for today’s consumer.
EMRs can work in concert with other technologies to elevate the care experience for patients, families, and clinicians, making it seamless in ways that other industries like travel and banking have already done. Leveraging the EMR and integrating surrounding technologies also future-proofs the technology investments hospitals and health systems have already made.
It’s time to stop thinking about systems in isolation, and instead think about how systems can work together to produce a better net effect. What else is possible now and how can we leverage our current IT investments to do better?