Research

From Meaningless to Meaningful

    Overview

    Effective EMR use still elusive

    Spurred by meaningful use incentives and the looming transition to value-based care, medical groups are rapidly deploying ambulatory electronic medical records (EMRs). Yet, long after EMR implementation, many groups continue to struggle with poor data quality and disruption to physicians’ daily practice.

    To use the EMR to its fullest, medical groups must build a robust process for ongoing optimization—reconfiguring the EMR for maximum effectiveness and boosting physician engagement and skills.

    Reconfigure the EMR to maximize usability

    Unlike most consumer technologies, the EMR requires considerable customization before medical groups can use it effectively. Everything from where information is placed on the page to how physicians enter data (via free text versus a structured fi eld) can affect documentation efficiency, data quality, and other usability concerns.

    While some of this work can be done prior to implementation, many reconfiguration challenges do not surface until after the EMR is in widespread use. Medical groups must prepare to continually re-assess and adjust interface design, workflow standards, and types of data fields to optimize efficiency and data capture.

    Strengthen physician buy-In

    Medical groups must also overcome individual physician barriers to effective EMR use. Many physicians view the EMR as an unwelcome imposition on daily practice and struggle to appreciate its broader benefits. In addition, while physicians may have the technical skills to enter information, they often lack a complete understanding of how best to meet documentation standards in more subjective areas, such as selecting which information to include on the EMR problem list.

    To close these knowledge gaps, some programs are codifying documentation expectations in style guides and launching targeted training efforts.

    By reading this study, members will find:

    • Guidance on how to build a robust process for EMR optimization
    • Case studies of medical groups that have successfully addressed workflow challenges
    • Tactics for strengthening physician engagement with the EMR and enhancing documentation skills

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