Electronic health records (EHRs) were created with the expected benefits of automating tasks to improve efficiency, efficacy and overall patient health. As is often the case with new technology, however, the demand to quickly install the technology overshadowed the need for parallel process changes, which in turn affected the benefit realization of many system implementations.
In order to realize full investment potential, healthcare provider organizations should pause and step back after initial implementation to assess how the technology was expected to perform, how it is actually performing, and how it can better align with healthcare provider needs in order to realize the benefits that motivated the original decision to implement the new system.
Within the last 10 years, healthcare organizations have invested over $20 billion in electronic health record technology. They focused the design and build on perceived user preferences and initial capabilities, not yet realizing where all the return on investment could be had. Now that workflows have stabilized, providers are turning their focus to refine the technology in order to better match organizational needs.
In conjunction with proper governance structure, this continued evaluation process should help sustain and maximize EHR benefits, contributing to long-term organizational success, provider satisfaction, patient benefit and return on investment.
Driving operational excellence through investment realization of EHR technology typically follows two pathways: (1) operational and clinical workflow optimization, and (2) revenue cycle management (RCM) optimization. Through proper alignment of key resources, personnel, processes and technology enhancements, organizations can drive value to achieve true operational readiness, reducing organizational stressors such as physician burnout and improving quality of care.
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