2018 has been a year of mass deregulation in healthcare. The Patients Over Paperwork program launched with the goal of stripping burdensome regulations from healthcare. Lawmakers started by scaling back EHR and quality reporting requirements. These changes will go into effect beginning in January 2019. Healthcare leaders should take this reprieve as an opportunity to realign the organization’s technology strategy with its business goals and end-user needs. In 2019, EHR optimization projects should be established to:

  • Measure and manage physician satisfaction. Make reducing physician burnout a key strategic priority. Analyze EHR audit log data to pinpoint workflow bottlenecks. Count each click. Create EHR workflows that decrease the time it takes providers to review charts, write notes, and place orders.
  • Improve the patient experience. Invest in patient engagement as though the life of the business depends on it, because it does. Healthcare is now an outpatient-based market. As retail clinics, urgent care centers, and telehealth vendors compete for market share, a customer-obsessed approach to patient engagement is the key to building patient loyalty.
  • Improve the quality of care and reduce costs. Stamp out clinical variation within the organization. Analyze supply and cost trends across high-cost and high-volume conditions. Work with medical leadership to establish standards of care for these conditions. Support the transition to these standards by deploying EHR workflows that drive compliant care.
  • Strengthen core revenue streams. Perform a root-cause analysis of claims backlogs and denials. Reduce denials and backlogs through EHR optimization. Automate the prior authorization process with enhanced EHR workflows. Build coder queries directly into EHR documentation workflows.

The digital transformation of healthcare’s provider space unfolded at a breakneck pace. In 2008, only 9% of US hospitals[i] and 17% of physician offices[ii] were running a basic EHR, compared to widespread use today. Installing EHRs for so many of the nation’s providers in such a short amount of time was a policy mistake. Providers were left with EHRs that failed to deliver efficiencies and instead caused end-user frustration. EHRs, as they stand, are not ready to support physician productivity, patient engagement, or cost control efforts. As federal oversight abates, the time for strategic EHR optimization has arrived.
My name is Jeffrey Becker. I invite you to join me in the coming months as I take a deep dive into the EHR optimization and patient engagement strategies that are driving change at healthcare organizations pursuing the IHI Triple Aim. Connect with me via briefings or inquiries.


[i] Source: JaWanna Henry, Yuriy Pylypchuk, Talisha Searcy, and Vaishali Patel, “Adoption of Electronic Health Record Systems among U.S. Non-Federal Acute Care Hospitals: 2008-2015,” Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, May 2016 (https://dashboard.healthit.gov/evaluations/data-briefs/non-federal-acute-care-hospital-ehr-adoption-2008-2015.php)

[ii] Source: “Office-based Physician Electronic Health Record Adoption,” Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, 2015 (https://dashboard.healthit.gov/quickstats/pages/physician-ehr-adoption-trends.php)