Unintegrated EHRs: Operating In A Silo
Hospitals and providers that struggle with their EHRs often do so because they operate in a silo-type environment. These organizations might experience a scenario like this on a daily, if not hourly, basis: A patient visits his primary care physician to discuss back and neck pain. The physician orders an MRI. She keys in the order to the EHR. Then, she has the front desk staff print out a copy of that order for the patient, which he then takes across the hall to the MRI department where he hands them the paper order, and they must read it, and then re-key the order into their own system before they can schedule him for an appointment.
Scenarios like this leave the doctor, the MRI team, and the patient all wondering what benefit an EHR provides if paper orders and re-keys are still necessary? The answer: lack of integration and optimization. Obviously the healthcare system in the above example is not using their EHR in a way that maximizes workflow. Each department operates in a functional silo, and absolutely no information is shared across the system, defeating the entire point of the EHR.
If the healthcare system could get that patient in the door to see his doctor, who could then send the information directly to the MRI team, who would then kick back an appointment time, what would it mean for everyone involved? The clinical team wouldn’t have to suffer from extra data entry and administrative tasks. The patient wouldn’t have to spend extra time at the hospital delivering his own orders. The potential for error would be reduced and time and money would be saved. The consequence of these changes? Improved satisfaction among both staff and patients, and thus, the hospital has enhances its competitive edge.
Using The Tool To Create A Solution
Using EHRs as a tool to develop real solutions extends beyond individual patient visits, as well. When electronic healthcare records are used to their full potential and they freely share information across systems, hospitals can finally use analytics to make truly data-driven decisions.
Measuring physician performance is critical in today’s environment. However, if some of a physician’s notes are on paper, and some are in isolated systems, it is impossible to develop processes that create accurate readings. The EHR does not have a full picture of each doctor’s actions and outcomes, so there is no way to pull data sets and measure them in an apples-to-apples scenario across the board. Only when systems are integrated and optimized can hospitals develop side-by-side readings that are truly accurate.
The reasons why hospital staff don’t fully buy into electronic health records and healthcare systems don’t recognize true return on investment are lack of EHR integration and optimization. When the system isn’t used to its full potential, it cannot make clinical and administrative jobs easier. In fact, it leads to errors and redundancies that further poison the well against the EHR system. If hospitals truly want to show both patients and staff “what’s in it for them” when it comes to EHRs, tools need to be properly integrated so that real and lasting solutions can be developed that will improve workflow and enhance patient care.