Catching Up on EHR Upgrades: Job #1 for Health System CIOs

However, during COVID your EHR priorities likely shifted.  Regular adherence to maintenance and regular upgrade schedules may have slipped. As a result, many health systems find themselves with an overloaded ticket system and a backlog of EHR upgrades.

According to EHRIntelligence.com, 31 percent of CIOs say that catching up on EHR upgrades is the top IT priority in 2021. What’s the best course of action? What are the key considerations? And why might outsourcing the management of upgrades and maintenance be your best bet?

Three Steps to Catch Up on EHR Upgrades

Step One: Know the Cycle of Your EHR Upgrades

If your review, testing and training cycle for an upgrade is 12-15 weeks, and your EHR vendor performs quarterly updates, you’ll quickly fall behind. It is imperative that CIOs know how long their internal teams and end-users take to accommodate an EHR upgrade. They must also have complete transparency into the EHR vendor’s upgrade schedule. These two components must come together to successfully catch up in 2021.

Step Two: Take Inventory of All Routine Maintenance; EHR and Beyond

Take inventory of all routine maintenance that might’ve fallen off during the pandemic. Items such as duplicate medical record clean up and ERP (or master file) management clean up are important areas that need regular IT attention.

Step Three: Set Realistic Expectations, Centralize, and Ask for Help

EHR maintenance and upgrades often interfere with primary duties. Be practical when setting expectations and timelines. In other words, if completing upgrades aren’t the primary goal for your team, don’t let them become the main thing the team is doing each day.

Routine maintenance of your EHR is paramount. Yet in today’s world of breaches and bad actors, maintenance is an almost daily task that can tax a team significantly. It’s important to consider the toll routine tasks can take on your employees. Employee turnover could become an issue if they are overloaded.

We’ve seen IT, HIM and reporting teams inundated with clean-up projects. In many cases the solution is a centralized EHR upgrade team and process. Business offices have centralized. HIM departments have centralized. Centralized EHR upgrade and maintenance teams are a proven next step.

With a centralized EHR upgrade team, everything is filtered through a single decision manager or team. Notes, builds, testing, training, and eventual rollout are all streamlined with a centralized EHR upgrade team. In addition, IT resources are optimized, overall costs are reduced, and staff satisfaction improves through a centralized team.

To catch up on backlogged EHR upgrades without burdening already over-taxed IT teams, CIOs should also consider asking for help. An outsourced managed services arrangement is extremely beneficial when resources are limited or time is tight.

An outsourced managed services team takes over your backlogged EHR maintenance and upgrades while your staff focuses on other top IT priorities. They are experts in understanding and maximizing efficiencies in the upgrade and maintenance cycles.

 

If you’d like to learn more about navigating the changing EHR landscape, contact us today!

EHR Patient Portal Support: The Magic Wand for Better Patient Experiences, Satisfaction and Loyalty

Covid changed the entire healthcare landscape and amplified the importance of a patient-centric approach in all aspects of the patient journey. This includes the EHR experience.

Organizations that capitalize on post-pandemic shifts and implement strategies focused on patient experience will find increased satisfaction rates – both from patients and clinicians. The best place to start is with your EHR’s patient portal.

The opportunities to improve patients’ portal experience are endless. Focus on a single, simplistic access point for patients to perform the functions they are accustomed to doing online, like scheduling appointments, managing prescriptions, and participating in telemedicine visits.

Seventy-four percent of millennials prefer telemedicine visits to in-person visits. And 93 percent of patients say they would use telemedicine to manage their prescriptions. Clearly, these are EHR portal services are crucial to your patients’ experiences.

The benefits to thinking “patient-first” aren’t just centered around convenience for the patient. They lead to better patient health overall in the following ways.

  • Virtual access to, and participation in their healthcare journey, reduces patient anxiety levels.
  • Patients feel better when they are in control of their information.
  • Expedited connections to providers and results gives patients a sense of security, trust and health system loyalty.
  • A dedicated EHR patient portal support team helps guide patients through the EHR journey and builds confidence with your portal technology.

The initial investment in EHR patient portal support yields big dividends in patient experience, satisfaction, and loyalty.  Stronger patient proficiency with your portal builds higher comfort levels with your EHR and your organization.

In our experience, it takes 12 minutes to walk a patient through all aspects of portal use and six minutes to do a password reset (which comprise 99 percent of calls). Compared to a 30-minute wait time at an in-person visit or call, this time spent with your EHR patient portal support team is minimal. This greatly helps organizations deliver exceptional customer service and patient satisfaction.

Benefits for Your Patients:

The EHR patient portal support team is a security blanket for patients. They feel their information is protected, in their control, and comes with support when they have technological or care issues.

Benefits for Your Clinicians:

Clinicians are relieved when patients have easy and secure access to information. An added plus is that EHR patient portal support teams relieve some of the patient call burden and puts EHR portal questions in the hands of the right people.

In the end, a dedicated EHR patient portal support team benefits the patient, the clinician and the organization overall.  Taking the time to invest in EHR portal strategies that consider the patient point of view pays off for an organization’s long-term success.

 

If you’d like to learn more about navigating the changing EHR landscape, contact us today!