Transforming the Physician Experience through EHR Optimization
[This post was authored by Mutaz Shegewi, Research Director, Provider IT Transformation Strategies, IDC Health Insights.]
Physicians struggle under a barrage of clinical documentation and electronic health record (EHR) workflow challenges. The first wave of EHR deployment (or EHR 1.0) gave physicians a new digital medium for data entry, storage, and retrieval. However, little has been done to offset physician frustration with EHRs, which still largely remain a blunt instrument for routine clinical documentation tasks. EHRs have a long way to go before they contribute to improving physicians’ job satisfaction, reducing workloads and humanizing the user experience.
Enter EHR optimization. The core premise for EHR optimization is to attend to the physician dilemma of needing to advance patient care through EHR technology, while still ensuring respect and happiness in the profession. It focuses on lightening physician workload burdens by standardizing workflows, reducing clicks, redesigning workflows to cater for specific patient panels and/or service lines, adding more personalization features and user/role-based capabilities, enabling artificial intelligence and ambient interface functions (e.g., bots, voice recognition, gesture-based controls), and ensuring users have better access to training and support with less time spent away from patient care.
New challenges continually emerge in healthcare and physicians must find new ways to stay ahead of them. Care-seeking consumers and patients are more sophisticated today. Organizations must keep up with shifting demands and pressures to improve quality while decreasing cost. With this, the second wave of EHRs (or EHR 2.0) marks a fast-emerging paradigm characterized by the introduction of next-generational EHRs and clinical documentation capabilities better positioned to transform the physician experience, engage patients, and drive value-based care. EHR 2.0 is about animating clinical workflows through better user experiences, more system openness, and improved usability in a world where one size most definitely does not fit all.
Where traditional EHR workflows were both inefficient and bogged down in the mundane, EHR 2.0 is paving the way for more meaningful, personalized, integrated and value-driven workflows. EHR optimization, therefore, forms a key component in the EHR 2.0 era alongside advances in cloud-based platforms, open-application ecosystems, and interoperability. Collectively, these advances offer smart and feasible ways for providers to address complicated and costly workflow problems. Burnout, for example, has been widely documented as taking a great toll on physicians and contributing to shortages of doctors. EHR optimization helps mitigate burnout by allowing physicians to control the EHR and not the other way around. When coupled with other emerging technology areas, such as artificial intelligence and ambient interfaces, the promise of EHR optimization becomes immense.
Healthcare providers must consider EHR optimization as a top-level strategic imperative at the organizational level as they seek to drive a better culture of digital care within their organizations. The next five years will see EHR optimization accelerate rapidly as healthcare providers shift their technology adoption towards better health IT maturity to support the needs of increasingly empowered, sophisticated, and demanding consumers and patients. New patient journeys and value-driven operating models will only benefit from being in an optimized state with faster, more intuitive, and personalized clinical documentation capabilities.
The time for EHR optimization is now. It offers a clear way forward for organizations looking to transform the physician experience and adapt to the care needs of today and tomorrow.