How EHR Software Boosts Eye Care Practice Efficiency
Investing in ophthalmology and optometry EHR software is one of the most significant business decisions you’ll make for your practice. Once you hit that “go-live” button, it’s critical to invest time and resources for optimizing your EHR system.
EHR optimization is an ongoing process due to software and functionality updates, never-ending federal and state regulations, and user workflow needs.
One of the most common reasons healthcare providers and staff dislike their EHRs is due to a poorly executed implementation. No two practices are alike, which means your EHR should allow you to think and work the way you do.
According to an EHR study by Capterra, healthcare professionals rated “functionality” and “ease of use” as the biggest factors that impacted their purchasing decision (63% combined results).
The ModernMedicine Network 2017 EHR Report shows that 58% of healthcare professionals surveyed said their current EHR system lacks the ability to be customized easily.
When Dr. Lowell Lebovitz, owner of Envision Eye Care and co-administrator of Vision Source for Western Pennsylvania, began looking for an optometry EHR, he focused on EHR systems that would improve business efficiencies, support long-term growth, and allow him to spend more time with patients
“By optimizing MaximEyes EHR, customizing my workflows and exam templates, and modifying routine patient and referral letters, we’ve increased staff productivity by 10-20%. Patient examinations run more smoothly so I can spend more time with patients.” – Lowell Lebovitz, OD
Ready to make your eye care practice incredibly efficient? Let’s explore the importance of EHR optimization and how EHR software sets you on a path to success.
What is EHR Optimization?
Picture EHR optimization as fine-tuning implementation processes to improve clinical productivity and office efficiencies. It’s a method of refining your optometry and ophthalmology EHR software installation, so your system works the way you do and adjusts what slows you down.
EHR optimization is a process that takes time, patience, and commitment. As with any new process, poor planning, poor communication, and poor training lead to unwelcome results if you set unrealistic expectations and close communications with your staff. Optimization is not a magic wand where you will instantly see results—it involves planning, communication, and training.
Think of EHR optimization as a “less is more” approach where you focus on six to eight projects and identify what, when, and how you will see benefits. Factor key performance indicators (KPIs) into existing operations and workflows to help you measure if you’re achieving what you set out to achieve.
According to the Black Book healthcare market research key performance indicators (KPI) methodology, EHR customization, training, and integrations/interfaces are key KPIs for improving business efficiencies. Healthcare professionals are demanding more integrated and scalable EHRs.
The Black Book Ophthalmology EHR study focused on 18 KPIs from the perspective of user experience and reported that EHRs must make “extraordinary efforts to adapt and convert special needs in workable solutions with efficient cost and time consideration.” A data-driven approach provides a way to diagnose and correct problems by measuring and evaluating business performance.
MaximEyes EHR ranked among the top three EHRs for ophthalmology in the 2017 Black Book study and rated particularly strong in training, EHR implementation, customizability, reliability, and data security.
Embrace EHR Optimization from the Beginning
Every EHR optimization has its challenges and setbacks. One of the biggest challenges is educating your staff. Let’s look at a few processes to focus on first that will make or break a successful optimization.
Identify Resources and Form a Project Team
- Develop a clear definition of what you want the EHR system to accomplish. Make decisions based on processes that support your goals and objectives.
- Include people in your project team who embrace change, contribute enthusiastically, and have the respect of their peers. EHR optimization should not be driven solely by management, IT, or a CIO—this process requires the involvement and commitment from every level of your practice.
Define and Set Realistic Measurable Timelines and Goals
- Prioritize timelines and goals based on what will provide the most value to your practice.
- Analyze every function of every job to understand how your staff accomplishes these tasks.
Allow Staff Time to Learn Basic EHR Functions Before You Optimize
- Introduce new modules and features over a two to three-month period.
- Set aside blocks of time each week where staff can work without interruption.
- Set up training workstations away from patients and treat the staff to lunch.
- If you try to do too much too soon, people will get frustrated and give up.
Communicate with and Energize Your Staff
- Hold weekly or bi-monthly staff meetings.
- Use an intranet, email, or other methods to discuss issues and update the progress.
- Send staff a “Question of the Week or Month” and reward the person with a gift card who responds with the first correct answer.
- Maintain the momentum and enthusiasm or you might see some resistance from staff. Even though your staff may agree with the concept, several may have a low tolerance for change.
- Let your staff be honest with their concerns and recommendations. People want to be heard. Agree to disagree—healthy disagreements often lead to better decisions.
When you embrace EHR optimization from the beginning, you are building a stronger foundation for your eye care practice. From that foundation, you’ll be able to see positive results, measure the benefits, and create business efficiencies for long-term growth.
Office Processes Made Easy with EHR Optimization
Every optometry and ophthalmology practice is as unique as the patient it treats. While most EHRs come with pre-built exam templates, good EHR software allows you to customize the encounter form and encounter types to fit your workflows, with or without the help of an EHR vendor.
By simplifying encounter forms and types, you save precious time reviewing patient history and navigating back and forth during the exam. MaximEyes EHR preloads different types of forms that you can customize once the data entry flow is set.
Customize Encounter Forms and Types
Three ways you can configure your EHR and greatly reduce the time it takes to complete an encounter are to have:
- One encounter form that is the same for all patient visits.
- One main encounter form that includes different forms for simpler visits.
- Different forms that are unique to each type of visit.
No matter which encounter form option you choose, you need to set up your encounter types. And they all need to point to the same form or point to whatever form you choose. In most eye care practices, the list of appointment reasons or types are typically a complete list of encounter types.
Modify Plans and Assessments
Most EHR systems include default plans and assessments that are preloaded. These are basic or textbook plans that are meant to offer a starting point for each provider to build upon. Modifying plans and assessments will save you considerable time during a patient visit or when completing the encounter.
Refine and Prioritize Normal Values
The best optometry and ophthalmology EHR software lets you control data that populates the fields to describe normal findings. Customizing form and element normal values, as well as editing initial data, help reduce data entry time.
Build Your Own Rules in the EHR
Automate at least 70% of your diagnosis codes in your EHR software—this will save tremendous time when you finalize an exam. Typically, any value you pick from your value lists that is not “normal” likely needs a diagnosis code. That diagnosis code will also need a plan and assessment connected as well.
Use built-in medical coding wizards that suggest codes, documents, and plans that are based on the patient exam data you enter in the exam form. Create custom pop-up alerts and automate tasks based on certain conditions or exam findings.
Auto Link Documents to Encounters
One of the most significant time-saving features in an EHR system is the ability to link documents to an encounter by attaching documents via the encounter type and diagnosis codes. It’s easier to delete documents you don’t need during the encounter than it is to manually attach one at the end of the encounter.
Common document examples are referring letters and examination summaries. If you have an ophthalmologist you refer to often, who requires a specific post-op form, import this form into your EHR and add mapped fields to the document that auto-populate at the end of the exam. Educational material can be attached to a specific diagnosis code, rather than encounter types.Customizing encounter forms and types, plans, assessments, and normal values, as well as linking documents to encounters, establishes a smooth-running workflow in the exam lane. Fewer mouse clicks, less typing, and fewer screens translate to faster documentation.
Get More Out of Your EHR System
EHR software is changing how doctors and patients interact inside and outside your office. Technology is more powerful when you maximize the system’s full capabilities. Do you feel like your EHR software can and should do more? Here are a few functionalities that help you get more out of your EHR system.
Use Multiple Data Entry Options
Use multiple data entry options, such as free text typing and touchscreen friendly checkboxes or drop-down lists. You can quickly document an entire exam without typing a single note or number if you edit preferred values.
Simplify MIPS Compliance Reporting with Built-in MIPS Tools
Look for an EHR system that includes built-in Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) calculators, measure indicators, automated reporting, and other analytical tools. MIPS tools help determine which data you need to report on to comply with MIPS and Promoting Interoperability (PI) programs, increase your MIPS performance score and improve patient outcomes.
Add e-Prescribing and Medication Adherence Tools
While many optometry and ophthalmology EHR software offers integrated e-Prescribing solutions, a two-way e-Prescribing integration lets you send prescriptions and import medications prescribed by other physicians. Medication history and adherence tools give doctors easy access to advanced clinical, behavioral, and financial support tools that drive greater levels of medication adherence and improve patient health outcomes.
Mine Your Data with Powerful Search Tool
An under-used marketing and business strategy feature in EHRs is data mining or search tools. Build your own queries on any data field to find patients meeting your search criteria to quickly find all encounters or unique patients. Save your search criteria for repeated use. Your EHR should allow you to easily remove a condition and clear the search with one click.
Engage Patients with Advanced Patient Portal Tools
Patient portals that integrate with EHR software are an excellent way to connect with patients and deliver on-demand, secure access to personal health information (PHI) from recent doctor visits.
Consider adding one or more of the following advanced patient portal tools to your communication strategy: online scheduling, online bill pay, online faxing, and online medical history forms. That way you can speed up the check-in and check-out process and eliminate rekeying data into your EHR.
Automate Patient Check-In with a Check-In App
Save hundreds of dollars a month in wasted intake paperwork and sign-in sheets with a patient Check-in App. Eliminate rekeying demographics data and health history into your EHR and practice management system with an automatic data sync. Use a real-time dashboard to see arrival times, signed documentation, and what parts of the check-in the patient completed.
Consolidate Patient Images in One Image Management System
Store your patient images and reports from all your imaging devices in ONE cloud-based image management system. Enhance exams by sharing your findings on the screen to help patients better understand their eye conditions and why certain tests are needed.
Look for an image management system that has no VPNs, no plugins, and no external software, such as EyeClinic Imaging, which works with any EHR system.
When properly optimized, EHR systems drive strategic decisions and quality improvements, enhance patient care, and deliver long-term value-added benefits to your practice.
Adopting and maintaining customized, automated functions can make the system more valuable by speeding up and improving processes. It’s important to continually explore, evolve, and embrace new EHR technologies that enhance and streamline office efficiency.