If you are considering using Electronic Health Records (EHR) in your medical practice, or have recently switched to it, you might be looking for a few EHR tips to help you along the way.
As helpful as it is, EHR does not come without its challenges. The system implementation can take a long time, some doctors might have a harder time adapting to it, and you have to familiarize yourself with all the features if you want to take full advantage of its benefits.
For this reason, we have compiled a list of the top 12 EHR tips and tricks to help you take full advantage of your new electronic healthcare system.
11+ Tips to Make the Most Out of Electronic Health Records
As we mentioned, some common pitfalls many healthcare practices experience when they first start using EHRs are normal and expected.
For example, staff members may struggle to get familiar with the new system, doctors might have a hard time juggling patient interaction and electronic data entry, or you simply might not know how to utilize many of the EHR features.
So, read on for a comprehensive list of the most important EHR tips to help you overcome any obstacles your practice might face when making a transition to using EHR:
Tip #1. Make use of electronic features
One of the biggest benefits of EHR is that it turns patient records digital.
But in addition to saving time and space through digitalization, EHR includes several other useful features that can significantly improve your medical practice.
Some of these features include:
- Integration with other information sources. EHR software can be linked with other systems which your laboratories and imaging departments may use. This allows you to exchange data with your colleagues and associates quicker, and provide more timely patient care. You no longer have to wait for the physical copies of X-rays or CAT scans to be delivered, because you can just access their digital versions in the EHR system.
- E-prescriptions. With this feature, patients no longer need to carry paper prescriptions to pharmacies. This can improve patient experience, as patients won’t have to travel back and forth, but can rather pick up their medications right after their appointment. E-prescriptions can also store pharmacy preferences in your patients’ records, include built-in alerts for medication interactions, allergies, and dosing, and avoid errors caused by messy handwriting.
- Telemedicine. The option to provide healthcare remotely can be a game-changer. This tool allows you to engage with patients who are under quarantine, have limited mobility, live far away, are traveling, or simply find online consultations more convenient.
Want to know what other features your medical practice needs? Check out our list of must-have features for medical software!
Tip #2. Utilize EHR mobile features
Another must-know EHR tip? Taking advantage of its mobile feature.
Being a doctor requires that you’re always ready to be called in (even when you’re off duty). For example, patients can have a medical emergency, require answers to urgent questions, or may need a prescription refill while their doctor is off duty.
Since EHRs are stored online, it is possible to allow your employees to access your system from anywhere and use mobile features to book appointments while on the go, check their prescriptions on the way to the pharmacy, and more.
So, make sure to use the EHR mobile feature to make doctors more accessible to your patients.
Tip #3. Offer your physicians training and guidance
Due to the complexity of EHR systems, it takes time to get fully accustomed to and competent at using them.
As such, it is crucial to provide your staff with the proper training.
If members of your healthcare practice team do not know how to use an EHR system, they are far more likely to feel unsatisfied with their work, err more, and feel burned-out.
Along with initial training, implement regular, ongoing training to keep your staff up to date on your EHR features and tools so that they can provide the highest quality patient care.
Whatever EHR system you pick, make sure it comes with free training and support for your staff.
For example, Medesk training and support is available 24/7 to help you create document templates, support to solve technical issues, or simply hear your feedback.
Tip #4. Focus on your patients, not your computer screen
A big part of EHR training focuses on doctor-patient interaction.
When you are new to EHR, it is easy to get distracted by the computer screen. But if you do not balance the amount of time you spend on the computer with the time you spend interacting with your patient, it can create problems in patient-doctor relations.
Here are some tips to help you maintain that balance:
- Take note of how you split your time between your computer screen and your patient. It’s important to be aware and cut down on some “impersonal” habits - such as glancing at the screen when you are receiving non-relevant clinical information.
- Give your undivided attention during the initial introductions and while the patient is sharing sensitive information.
- Remember to make eye contact and mostly face your patient during your interaction.
- Keep your hands off the keyboard and mouse and lean away from the monitor unless you are entering information into the system or checking information.
- Involve the patient in your interaction with the computer whenever possible. You can display test results, notes, or information to the patient or their family to make them feel more engaged and satisfied with the encounter.
Pro-Tip: Our dedicated guide to electronic health record (EHR) system types can help you pick the right one for your medical practice!
Tip #5. Do not stop patient interaction
On a similar note, it’s important not to interrupt the flow of the interaction with your patient.
A survey conducted by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons revealed that even when 75% of doctors believed their communication skills were good, only 21% of patients agreed.
So, don’t let EHR be another factor that negatively affects your communication skills.
When you do have to engage with your computer, remember to:
- Keep talking with your patient while you enter data. If the patient has to constantly stop and go during their appointment with you, they will not feel at ease and may lose their train of thought.
- Point to the screen when discussing data so that they feel involved when you are consulting their record.
- Tell your patient what you are doing when you are shifting your attention to the computer.
- Adjust your timing around your patient. Learn to type as you listen and let the patient control the flow of information.
- Try not to interrupt your patient while they are talking in order to record data.
Tip #6. Encourage use of the patient portal
One of the core features of EHR is the patient portal.
A patient portal can be a powerful tool that allows your patients access to all their medical records and treatment plans online. This gives them more control over their healthcare from the comfort of their home.
It will not be very helpful, however, if you do not encourage your patients to use this tool. Make sure you explain to them all the benefits, provide instructions for getting the maximum use out of the patient portal, and remind them to use it to make healthcare services more accessible.
Using the patient portal, your patients will be able to:
- Check their latest test results from the comfort of their home.
- Set up appointments online, which is a much quicker and easier process that will make your patients more likely to book visits.
- Receive answers from their doctors about urgent questions faster.
- Receive reminders for vaccinations and other routine procedures.
- View their medical records and treatment plans without having to visit the clinic.
- Keep track of their progress online, allowing their doctor to monitor them, potentially reducing the need for follow-ups.
Tip #7. Don’t make patient data entry a routine matter
Working with data can often feel mundane and routine. This is especially the case from the patient’s perspective.
A health check-up probably already feels like you are under a microscope, so why not make things a little easier for your patients by separating routine data entry from your actual interaction.
Review and tailor your notes and areas of concern before the visit so that you can focus your time and attention on your patient in the examination room. For example, make sure you avoid asking questions that are not relevant or that the patient has already answered.
Tip #8. Enter data after consulting your patients
We’ve already talked a lot about doctor-patient relations, but that’s because they’re an essential part of a good patient experience.
So, here’s another tip to add to that particular list:
Acknowledge or ask your patients for permission before entering data on their medical charts.
It can feel impersonal and even intimidating for patients when they see you typing away without knowing what you’re actually writing down. Even a simple phrase like “Let’s record your weight and blood pressure in your chart here” can make your patient feel more involved in their healthcare.
This will improve your relationship with your patients and increase their trust in the care you provide.
Tip #9. Try using templates and reports
Among the many tools that EHRs offer, templates and reporting tools are among the most effective.
So, if you want to use your EHR system to reduce your staff’s workload, make sure you properly utilize these tools!
They can help you:
- Significantly reduce the time needed to work on patient charts and records.
- Reuse common sets of data.
- Increase the efficiency and accuracy of your physicians’ work.
- Remember to enter key information.
- Organize information and input data.
Pro-Tip: Medesk EHR for psychiatry and behavioral health comes with 40+ built in templates to make reporting a breeze!
Tip #10. Customize the system to your needs
One size can never truly fit all. To optimize your EHR, it’s important to customize it to your specific needs.
Even minor customizations can have a big impact on how well your EHR fits into your private practice. For example, it can read the patterns of patient symptoms as you enter them and give you auto-fill suggestions.
A well-configured EHR system will reduce the time your staff needs to spend in front of the computer, save time during patient visits, improve their satisfaction, and reduce the burden on your staff.
Tip #11. Improve your computer and typing skills
This one is a bit of a no-brainer. You need computer skills to work with a computer-based system such as an EHR.
This ties in with ongoing staff training as well. Your physicians and the rest of your staff should continuously work on their screen-scanning and typing speed and accuracy.
This is something that will naturally improve over time as your staff uses EHR, but should still be encouraged to actively pursue it, even by the more tech-savvy users because it can increase speed, accuracy, and one-on-one interaction between your patients and doctors.
Tip #12. Be patient
According to a study conducted on the usability of EHRs, time restrictions and psychological pressure are associated with a lower competence of healthcare staff using EHR systems.
It can take medical professionals a long time to become confident using EHRs. Have patience and accept the fact that it’s a long process that always has room for improvement.
Want to Start Using EHR in Your Medical Practice? Try Medesk!
Medesk is one the most user-friendly and intuitive EHR system and practice management software on the market today.
It comes with a host of tools and features that will help you elevate your healthcare practice to the next level!
Some of these tools and features include:
- Reporting tools with 40+ templates that will cut down the time spent compiling reports.
- An online patient portal that lets your patients keep track of their treatment progress and view important information such as test results and immunization dates.
- Telemedicine so that you can provide care to your patients remotely when they are unable to come in for a visit.
- E-prescribing eliminates wait time and unnecessary travel for your patients.
- Evidence-based decision-making tools to help your physicians make accurate diagnoses and provide optimal treatment plans.
And much more!
If you are interested in testing out how these features will benefit your medical practice, try our free EHR trial!