When implementing, upgrading, or customizing your Electronic Health Record (EHR) or Electronic Medical Record (EMR), it is essential to examine and modify your practice’s workflows to take full advantage of an EHR’s benefits. An EHR or EMR is a valuable tool, but like any tool, you must work with it properly to see your desired results. A workflow redesign process can help your practice get the most out of your EHR, especially if using NextGen EHR. Here is the what and why of workflow redesign.
What is a Workflow?
A workflow is a process you use to complete a task. In your practice, your workflows are your processes for making appointments, seeing patients, ordering tests and reviewing their results, writing prescriptions, billing insurance companies, and the many other tasks you complete in a day. Your workflows depend on your staffing, the tools you use to manage patients and their care, and your practice environment. Examining your current workflows with a focus on bottlenecks and pain points is a critical first step in workflow redesign.
Why Do You Need to Redesign Workflows When Implementing an EHR?
The type of medical record your practice uses affects your workflows. For example, with paper medical records, your workflow for seeing patients would require, among other things, pulling charts, documenting visits by hand, faxing prescriptions, and refiling charts. With an EHR, the flow of patients and patient data through your office can change dramatically, making your workflows more efficient.
While switching to an EHR can eliminate many of the inefficiencies of paper medical records, realizing these efficiency gains requires workflow redesign. Workflow redesign is a three-step process to help your organization maximize efficiency, reduce chaos, improve health care quality and safety, and improve care coordination. When TempDev engages in NextGen EHR workflow redesign, they typically perform the following steps:
- Map your current workflows to identify how your organization currently completes everyday tasks. Identify any bottlenecks and inefficiencies.
- Outline the new workflow patterns under an EHR, focusing on optimizing efficiency and health care quality. Ensure your new workflows align with your EHR’s capabilities, and pilot test new workflows to confirm they work for clinicians and staff.
- Monitor your new workflows and make adjustments as needed.
Without accompanying workflow redesign, implementing, changing, or upgrading an EHR can be chaotic and confusing for your organization. Attempting to replicate a paper medical record workflow with an EHR will waste the potential to improve your practice’s efficiency and the quality of care you provide. Paper processes often do not translate precisely to electronic procedures, and those differences must be accounted for and optimized for the EHR. By completing a workflow redesign process, your practice can maximize your new EHR’s benefit while smoothing implementation.
How Does Workflow Redesign Help Your Practice?
An EHR can facilitate higher-quality, more efficient care, but implementing one does not guarantee these improvements. How you and your practice interact with the EHR is the critical ingredient in success. Engaging in a workflow redesign process will allow your organization to examine current workflows and identify existing problem areas. Then, you can redesign those workflows around your EHR, eliminating or easing pain points. EHR implementation, paired with workflow redesign, can improve your quality scores, reduce patient wait times, increase patient history data quality, reduce time spent on orders and prescribing, and ease coding and billing requirements.
Redesigning Patient Flow
With an EHR, you can rethink the way patients flow through your office. Workflow redesign can simplify scheduling and waiting room tasks, ease documentation and orders, and complete post-visit instructions and billing in the exam room.
For example, an EHR’s benefit is that it can be linked to your appointment scheduling system to allow patients to request appointments online and to facilitate same-day appointments. This ability reduces wait times and enables urgent needs to be addressed quickly, improving quality. You can also redesign your waiting room intake process to have patients complete and correct their medical histories while they wait for their appointment. Instead of one-size-fits-all paper forms, an EHR allows you to have patients use kiosks or tablets to fill out an interactive history while waiting. Thereby reducing staff data entry time and increasing the accuracy of the information available to your clinicians.
Additionally, by redesigning your workflow around your new EHR, your practice can complete more work in the exam room, reducing pre- and post-visit time. For example, with the proper workflow, you can use your EHR to e-prescribe, upload post-visit instructions and patient education materials to a patient portal, and even complete billing processes from the exam room. These approaches not only save time, but they also improve patient satisfaction.
Redesigning Information Flow
EHRs provide up-to-date information at your fingertips, a significant improvement over paper medical charts. While they have the potential to improve care coordination, reduce medical errors, and simplify patient follow-up, you must redesign your information workflows to take advantage of your EHR fully.
Your EHR can transform how you interact with patients and coordinate care. Redesigning your workflows allows secure electronic direct messaging among clinicians and between clinicians. Patients can improve chronic disease management, ease care coordination between specialties, and reduce patient appointment requests for trivial matters. An EHR with a proper workflow can also improve the management of electronic documents. For example, clinicians can send and receive test results, consultation reports, or prescription refill requests from anywhere in real time. This reduces patient wait times for results and prescriptions, limits the likelihood of inadvertent errors, and helps ensure patient history data is complete and accurate.
How TempDev Can Help
TempDev has deep experience in all aspects of NextGen EHR. TempDev consultants can help you with system configuration, workflow redesign, and NextGen EHR training to help your organization get the most out of your NextGen EHR. With TempDev’s help, you can streamline your organization’s daily routine, reducing inefficiencies and improving the quality of care you provide. TempDev can even help you implement your new workflows.
Call us at 888.TEMP.DEV, or contact us here to get started redesigning your workflows to get the most out of your NextGen EHR.