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Electronic Health Record (EHR) – functional or healthy?

As implementations mature and integration with 3rd party applications and entities expand, the focus is shifting towards optimal utilization of the treasure troves of data contained within medical records. Research programs, statistical reporting, and regulatory data reporting requirements – these all use the data found in interfaced records.

Many hospitals, especially early implementers, are finding an unexpected challenge in this reporting though; the quality of data isn’t near as high as it could and should be.

In the past, interfaced medical records data had to mainly or solely satisfy the need for providing excellent medical care to patients. In some cases, this has meant that only interface message content errors critical to this mission would be reviewed and resolved – or at least that other types of errors received less attention, a “laissez faire” approach of “we’ll get to it when we can.” In most cases, this translates into “we’ll get to it if we can”; an if that rarely materializes, taking a backseat to the multitude of expansion projects often prevalent in healthcare IT environments.

The EHR, while functional, isn’t healthy.

How to improve the health of the EHR?

Implementing comprehensive Interface Error Management Policies & Procedures, and the tools that go with such can prevent data loss and incomplete patient charts.

Providing tools to not only track and resolve all identified types of errors, but also capture and monitor previously not encountered errors, such as

  • Policies & Procedures
  • Assignment structure
  • Capture & Monitor structure
  • Resolution Standards structure
  • QA Reports structure

will help ensure that your EHR is not just functional but healthy.

Can you afford to do this?

Ensuring that patient charts are accurate, with the correct and complete information needed to provide the right care at the right time, is always the right thing to do. However, with the increased reporting requirements and the potential financial consequences for failing to meet these, the question may be more accurately asked: Can you afford not to?

But, it is not just some future theoretical reimbursement benefits. There are immediate and tangible rewards to be reaped from a healthy EHR as well.

Return on investment will be dependent on several factors, such as the size of the organization, current state of interface health, types of common interface errors, etc. But the following areas will likely see immediate returns in both patient and staff satisfaction as well as direct revenues:

  • Support time reductions
    Resolving interface errors through Interface Error Management can reduce support time spent by as much as 80% compared to errors reporting via Help Desk tickets(1).
  • Patient Satisfaction
    Patients are customers, and customer satisfaction is important to any business. Inaccurate appointment schedules or missing test results is a significant customer dissatisfier.
  • Provider Efficiency
    Under-utilization of provider resources is costly. When appointment schedules are inaccurate, or appointments need rescheduling last minute because test results failed to populate the EHR, provider time slots go unused, leading both to loss of revenue and lower staff satisfaction.
  • Billing Efficiency
    Much of billing is linked to interfaced results. When interface message fails, services and tests may go unbilled, leading to significant revenue loss. One hospital cited incomplete interfaced data as the source of “hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.(2)
  • Regulatory and Other Reporting Requirements
    MACRA and the requirements for MIPS reporting, Meaningful Use, Population Health Registries and other federal, state or local requirements may lead to reduced reimbursements if the data is not captured accurately and completely. This can significantly impact the revenue you can capture and justify given the care provided to your patient population.

While every organization is different, and varying conditions may make some of the avenues more or less relevant, the likelihood of overall significant costs associated with the lack of a comprehensive Interface Error Management strategy is sufficient to warrant serious attention by most healthcare organizations.

We can help

Optimum Healthcare IT has a team specialized in all aspects of Interface Error Management, from initial concept development and implementation to full-scale tools deployment and training.

If you haven’t given the attention needed to your interface errors, Optimum can also assist in the long term maintenance of interface errors, ensuring that your EHR becomes and remains not just functional, but healthy.

If you are interested in learning more about how Optimum Healthcare IT can help you improve the health of your EHR, contact us today!

 

(1) Support time for Help desk tickets include time usage by reporting caller to report the missing data, help desk representative receiving the call and entering/submitting the ticket and support analyst receiving the ticket and performing the analysis. It also includes additional resolution time often required by trickle-down effects that need resolving as a result of the initial missing data. This data is obtained from experience with recent clients and effort to identify and resolve interface errors.  This is not a published statistic.

(2) An east coast healthcare system estimated that over the course of a 12 month period, unresolved interface errors for a single interface was responsible for unbilled charges that represented approximately .03% of annual patient revenue.  This impact can be extrapolated to the entire interface inventory to identify significant potential loss in cash and net patient revenue.

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