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EHR Optimization – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on June 27, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

We’re excited to share the topic and questions for this week’s #HITsm chat happening Friday, 6/30 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Justin Campbell (@tjustincampbell) and Julie Champagne (@JulieEChampagne) from @GalenHealthcare on the topic of “EHR Optimization.”


Healthcare information technology witnessed a wave of implementation, where the promise of efficiency gains and meaningful use incentives drove adoption of Electronic Health Records. As most Healthcare Delivery Organizations (HDOs) now have an EHR in place, it’s becoming clear that the traditional arguments for EHR implementation are insufficient to maximize return on technology investments.  As EHR adoption approaches maximum levels, HDOs are refining EHR strategy from a short-term clinical documentation data repository to a long-term asset with substantial functionality surrounding clinical decision support, health maintenance planning and quality reporting. In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by KPMG, in collaboration with CHIME, 38% of the 112 respondents ranked EMR/EHR optimization as their top choice for where they plan the majority of capital investment over the next three years.

Further, as the capabilities and sophistication of EHRs continue to grow, there is a widening divide between healthcare organizations that harness the capabilities for a competitive advantage and those that are crippled by poor usability, workflows and adoption. Capturing information is only the most basic feature of an EHR. HDOs should ensure the EHR is positioned to be flexible and extensible to adopt emerging technologies driving insight to the point of care. Thus, tremendous opportunity exists for EMR clinically and operationally oriented optimization to generate additional margin, ease the burden on providers, and improve care HDOs must refine their EHR strategy. In this tweetchat, we’ll weigh EHR optimization against replacement, discuss EHR optimization opportunities and barriers, and consider EHR optimization levers, effort, KPIs, and ROI.

Resources and Other EHR Optimization Reading:

  1. EHR Optimization Whitepaper
  2. EHR Optimization Infographic
  3. EHR Clinical Optimization Toolkit
  4. Achieving Clinical System ROI Through EHR Optimization, Replacement & Portfolio Rationalization
  5. Healthcare CIOs Focus On Optimizing EMRs
  6. Has Electronic Health Record Replacement Failed?
  7. EHR Implementation Accomplished – What’s Next?

Please join us for this week’s #HITsm chat focused on EHR Optimization. We’ll use the following 6 questions as the framework for the discussion:

This Week’s Topics
T1: How did the big-bang implementation approaches contribute to EMR inefficiencies and what can be done to mitigate? #HITsm

T2: What is it about current EMR technology that contributes directly to physician inefficiency? #HITsm

T3: How do you get providers engaged in an optimization initiative if they are disenchanted with the product and suffering from burnout? #HITsm

T4: How can clinical workflows be adjusted to improve physician-patient interactions by removing EHR technology and data entry as an obstacle to F2F interaction? #HITsm

T5: What are the most common barriers to EHR optimization and how are they overcome? #HITsm

Bonus: What amount (if any) of ROI should HDOs expect from EHR optimization and is it worth the effort? #HITsm

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
7/7 – International EHR Adoption: Challenges and Solutions
Hosted by Stefan Buttigieg, MD (@stefanbuttigieg)

7/14 – TBD
Hosted by TBD

7/21 – Meeting the Patient Where They Are
Hosted by Melody Smith Jones (@MelSmithJones) from HYP3R

7/28 – How Does Age Impact Patient Satisfaction & Provider Switching?
Hosted by Lea Chatham (@leachatham) from @SolutionReach

8/4 – TBD
Hosted by Alan Portela (@AlanWPortela) from Airstrip

We look forward to learning from the #HITsm community! As always let us know if you’d like to host a future #HITsm chat or if you know someone you think we should invite to host.

If you’re searching for the latest #HITsm chat, you can always find the latest #HITsm chat and schedule of chats here.

Has Electronic Health Record Replacement Failed?

Posted on June 23, 2016 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Justin Campbell, Vice President, Galen Healthcare.
Justin Campbell
A recent Black Book survey of hospital executives and IT employees who have replaced their Electronic Health Record system in the past three years paints a grim picture. Respondents report higher than expected costs, layoffs, declining revenues, disenfranchised clinicians and serious misgivings about the benefits of switching systems. Specifically:

  • 14% of all hospitals that replaced their original EHR since 2011 were losing inpatient revenue at a pace that wouldn’t support the total cost of their replacement EHR
  • 87% of hospitals facing financial challenges now regret the decision to change systems
  • 63% of executive level respondents admitted they feared losing their jobs as a result of the EHR replacement process
  • 66% of system users believe that interoperability and patient data exchange functionality have declined

Surely, this was not the outcome expected when hospitals rushed to replace paper records in response to Congressional incentives (and penalties) included in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

But the disappointment reflected in this survey only sheds light on part of the story. The majority of hospitals depicted here were already in financial difficulty. It is understandable that they felt impelled to make a significant change and to do so as quickly as possible. But installing an electronic record system, or replacing one that is antiquated, requires much more than a decision to do so. We should not be surprised that a complex undertaking like this would be burdened by complicated and confusing challenges, chief among which turned out to be “usability” and acceptance.

Another Black Book report, this one from 2013, revealed:

  • 66% of doctors using EHR systems did not do so willingly
  • 87% of those unwilling to use the system claimed usability as their primary complaint
  • 84% of physician groups chose their EHR to reach meaningful use incentives
  • 92% of practices described their EHR as “clunky” and/or difficult to use

None of this should surprise us but we need to ask: was usability really the key driver for EHR replacement? Is usability alone accountable for lost revenue, employment anxiety and buyers’ remorse? Surely organizations would not have dumped millions into failed EHR implementations only to rip-and-replace them due to usability problems and provider dissatisfaction. Indeed, despite the persistence of functional obstacles such as outdated technology, hospitals continue to make new EMR purchases. Maybe the “reason for the rip-and-replace approach by some hospitals is to reach interoperability between inpatient and outpatient data,” wrote Dr. Donald Voltz, MD in EMR and EHR.

Interoperability is linked to another one of the main drivers of EHR replacement: the mission to support value-based care, that is, to improve the delivery of care by streamlining operations and facilitating the exchange of health information between a hospital’s own providers and the caregivers at other hospitals or health facilities. This can be almost impossible to achieve if hospitals have legacy systems that include multiple and non-communicative EHRs.

As explained by Chief Nurse Executive Gail Carlson, in an article for Modern Healthcare, “Interoperability between EHRs has become crucial for their successful integration of operations – and sometimes requires dumping legacy systems that can’t talk to each other.

Many hospitals have numerous ancillary services, each with their own programs. The EHRs are often “best of breed.” That means they employ highly specialized software that provides excellent service in specific areas such as emergency departments, obstetrics or lab work. But communication between these departments is compromised because they display data differently.

In order to judge EHR replacement outcomes objectively, one needs to not just examine the near-term financials and sentiment (admittedly, replacement causes disruption and is not easy), but to also take a holistic view of the impact to the system’s portfolio by way of simplification and future positioning for value-based care. The majority of the negative sentiment and disappointing outcomes may actually stem from the migration and new system implementation process in and of itself. Many groups likely underestimated the scope of the undertaking and compromised new system adoption through a lackluster migration.

Not everyone plunged into the replacement frenzy. Some pursued a solution such as dBMotion to foster care for patients via intercommunications across all care venues. In fact, Allscripts acquired dBMotion to solve for interoperability between its inpatient solution (Eclipsys SCM) and its outpatient EMR offering (Touchworks). dBMotion provides a solution for those organizations with different inpatient and outpatient vendors, offering semantic interoperability, vocabulary management, EMPI and ultimately facilitating a true community-based record.

Yet others chose to optimize what they had, driven by financial constraints. There is a thin line separating EHR replacement from EHR optimization. This is especially true for those HCOs that are neither large enough nor sufficiently funded to be able to afford a replacement; they are instead forced to squeeze out the most value they can from their current investment.

The optimization path is much more pronounced with MEDITECH clients, where a large percentage of their base remains on the legacy MAGIC and C/S platforms.

Denni McColm, a hospital CIO, told healthsystemCIO why many MEDITECH clients are watching and waiting before they commit to a more advanced platform:

“We’re on MEDITECH’s Client/Server version, which is not their older version and not their newest version, and we have it implemented really everywhere that MEDITECH serves. So we have the hospital systems, home care, long-term care, emergency services, surgical center — all the way across the continuum. We plan to go to their latest version sometime in the next few years to get the ambulatory interface for the providers. It should be very efficient — reduced clicks, it’s mobile friendly, and our docs are anxious to move to it,” but we’ll decide when the time is right, she says.

What can we discern from these different approaches and studies?  It’s too early to be sure of the final score. One thing is certain though: the migrations and archival underpinnings of system replacement are essential. They allow the replacement to deliver on the promise of improved usability, enhanced interoperability and take us closer to the goal of value-based care.

About Justin Campbell
Justin is Vice President, Strategy, at Galen Healthcare Solutions. He is responsible for market intelligence, segmentation, business and market development and competitive strategy. Justin has been consulting in Health IT for over 10 years, guiding clients in the implementation, integration and optimization of clinical systems. He has been on the front lines of system replacement and data migration and is passionate about advancing interoperability in healthcare and harnessing analytical insights to realize improvements in patient care. Justin can be found on Twitter at @TJustinCampbell