Everyone deserves a healthcare system that consistently delivers appropriate, comprehensive care anywhere. Wherever they may be, patients are looking for three main things when engaging with a healthcare provider: excellent care, reasonable costs, and positive experiences.
Unfortunately, all too often, we fall short of these goals. Deeply rooted systemic issues, combined with varying degrees of success around health IT utilization, have left many provider organizations struggling to meet patient expectations while burdening their teams with increasingly complicated workflows.
Value-based reimbursements and a new generation of technologies are working together to change that paradigm. To meet quality benchmarks and secure consumer engagement, healthcare providers are increasingly making the patient experience a focal point of their transformational efforts.
Organizations are now increasing investment in sophisticated portals, navigation tools, telehealth, and customer relationship management systems to make sure their patients feel supported and respected throughout their journey.
These efforts are important for creating a connected, empowered care continuum. But without spending similar time and effort on upgrading the way providers and patients interact with the EMR at the point of care, organizations may still fall short of their patient experience goals.
History has shown us that EMRs have had mixed impact on the ability of clinicians to provide optimal patient care.
When implemented well, EMRs can catapult organizations into a bright new era of information-driven care. But the more time providers must spend mired in difficult workflows, chasing down data with endless clicking, the lower patient and provider satisfaction gets.
Organizations that wish to create high-quality experiences – and deliver high-quality care – need to equip their providers with timely and precise data that is trustworthy, easily accessible, and effective for patients.
How EMR workflows affect patient experiences
There are several reasons why EMRs often get a bad rap when it comes to patient experiences.
First, EMRs are dense with a lot of data, and it takes time takes to access, review, and update data during a consultation. Most patient visits last less than 15 minutes. It’s easy to see why patients would be frustrated when a provider spends the majority of that time with the computer while asking repetitious questions about past events instead of actively engaging with the person in front of them.
Secondly, EMRs are only one system in a complex network of systems that support the patient. Thus, they often do not have all the information necessary to facilitate appropriate and comprehensive care. Poor interoperability and data fragmentation leads to incomplete patient records, which can lead to medical errors, miscommunications, and unnecessary duplicate tests and services.
This can be dangerous for patients, not to mention aggravating for those who have limited time to spend on multiple trips to the clinic. And it can be extremely expensive. The National Academy of Medicine estimates that the US wastes at least $200 billion a year on avoidable or unnecessary care, including repeated testing.
Providers are equally exasperated by the feeling that they can’t always put their patients first. A long string of studies and surveys indicate that traditional EMR workflows are tied to burnout and lower job satisfaction. However, clinicians do see the potential in their health IT tools and are generally united in their desire for new strategies to help them bring the benefits of EMRs to fruition.
The solution begins by working backward from the patient-provider experience and determining what should happen and then making it easier and more intuitive for providers to complete their workflows in an efficient and patient-friendly manner. Providers should be supported and served by the systems, not the other way around.
By developing strategies that enable access to relevant, comprehensive, actionable insights without a marathon of clicking, providers and patients can spend more time on active collaboration and problem-solving.
Improving provider experiences to generate increased patient satisfaction
When it comes to interactions with the EMR, better provider experiences are inextricably linked with better patient experiences.
Not only do patients feel more valued when their providers can pay attention to them, but they may also have more trust in the quality of care when clinicians are focused, sharp, and able to express confidence about having all the necessary information at their fingertips.
Precision insights can support providers’ decisions about next steps more quickly, ensuring that the right treatment happens when it needs to – with a lower risk of duplicated efforts and problematic errors.
The technology to develop these streamlined, high-value workflows is already available. Provider organizations are starting to invest in tools with automated sensors to identify changes in charts and surface relevant data in a contextualized way.
Automated delivery of these insights directly into the workflow can shave valuable minutes off the process of reviewing and updating a patient’s chart. This can reduce unnecessary cognitive burdens for providers and, in turn, create better experiences and outcomes for patients.
The combination of improved EMR workflows and additional consumer-driven technologies will be crucial for developing activated, informed care teams that are centered around the patient.
Healthcare organizations can then continue to build on this foundation with patient-centered technologies, such as remote patient monitoring, patient outreach and engagement systems, and other communication channels, to forge stronger patient-provider relationships.
By architecting better experiences that start before the exam room and radiate outward, provider groups can set themselves up for success with value-based care.
Achieving true value in innovative reimbursement arrangements depends on sustained patient engagement and proactive communication, both of which are much easier to achieve when patients experience more convenient, trustworthy, cost-effective care.
Meeting patient expectations can be a challenge, but providers who apply their efforts strategically will reap better results. Devoting time and resources to crafting meaningful, insight-rich workflows can bring an immediate lift to the patient-provider relationship, leading to better experiences.
This approach will help us take another step forward on the journey toward appropriate, comprehensive care anywhere. We look forward to sharing stories of how providers are effectively crossing this chasm.