Why EHRs Alone Cannot Improve Coordination of Care
Electronic health records are the cornerstone of patient health data. But when it comes to collecting data about your hospital or health system’s organizational processes, EHRs fall short.
When it comes to healthcare IT, much of the conversation revolves around Electronic Health Records (EHR).
Persons outside IT might even use the term “EHR” as shorthand for all IT, when it’s really just a part of a hospital’s digital ecosystem.
EHRs are, no doubt, a critical piece of a health system’s infrastructure. They make it possible to keep an in-depth, up-to-date record of a patient’s health and all points of care the patient has come into contact with. And with improvements to interoperability, it’s become easier than ever for providers to share patient information across disparate systems and even across separate organizational entities.
EHRs have essentially become the hub that all other applications and programs must pass through in order to achieve their desired effects. Hospital administrators rely on EHRs for many operations they were never initially intended for. And this can be problematic, as it means EHRs can push out other best-of-breed systems by virtue of containing a similar, albeit inferior, product within a single portal.
This case of “ease of use” trumping “usefulness of service” is something that’s become an unexpected consequence of the rise of megasuite EHRs. In fact, a recent Gartner report highlighted how “The EHR Megasuite Oligopoly Will Result in Less Differentiation and Innovation — and Higher Total Cost of Ownership.”
The fear is that health systems will look less to applications that support their strategic objectives, and instead be forced to expend more and more budget upon these EHR megasuites, often opting to utilize a less innovative product for money or convenience’s sake.
One area that this risk is particularly acute is in coordination of care. The reason this is a major risk is that EHRs are designed with far more thought given to patient health and patient processes than with organizational health and organizational processes.
Megasuite EHRs simply do not have the capability of acquiring extensive data related to hospital processes, let alone turning that data into actionable business intelligence. They’re fantastic at acquiring and sharing patient data, but you can hit a wall when you try to reconfigure any aspect of an EHR in support of non-patient data acquisition.
EHRs, especially those supported by machine learning applications, are adept at pinpointing potential diagnoses based on patient history or noting the risks of a given patient. But they cannot quickly analyze…
- Whether or not a patient was quickly admitted to the hospital via the right front door
- If an attending physician saw the patient within an appropriate time frame
- How efficient the transfer was between departments
- If the patient was transferred more times than necessary
- The quality of ambulatory transportation
- If a patient could have been transferred to a post-acute facility more quickly
- And more
When you begin to see all the things EHRs can’t do, it becomes apparent that care coordination can suffer if left to the task of EHRs alone.
EHRs are woefully underequipped to handle the process-oriented side of the hospital system. Their premium place at the center of the clinical world is well-earned, but there needs to be a separate but equal engine driving efficiencies and process improvements on the system side of the hospital.
This care coordination platform must align hospital system data the way an EHR would align patient data. At any given time, you should be able to access information related to resource utilization, transfer processes, staffing levels, labor hours, patient volume and more.
You’ve come to expect this level of insight from an EHR, so why should analytics pertinent to the health of your organization be any different?
Hospital leaders must think about how their EHRs can supplement and improve their care coordination platform, and vice versa. To achieve systemness, the EHR and the care coordination platform must work in concert with one another.
While the EHR chart’s the patient’s progress and paints an up-to-the-minute picture of health, the care coordination platform charts the ways in which that patient’s experience can be improved, by minimizing their wait between transfers, by deploying the appropriate staff at the appropriate levels, by graduating them to a post-acute facility at precisely the right time without delay, and even by scheduling and monitoring transport between facilities.
This isn’t just good for the health and experience of the patient. It also improves the bottom line of your health system by reducing revenue leakage:
- Every moment that a patient is waiting to receive their care, they are spending time in a bed that could have gone to someone of greater need who could be getting care at that precise moment.
- If a patient is transferred to another department or facility due to capacity issues or staffing levels, that transfer process is costing a hospital money.
- When a patient’s acute needs have been met and they’re forced to spend excessive days in a hospital bed awaiting discharge to a post-acute facility, the hospital begins to lose money on that bed.
- Every time a nurse, physician or support team member is standing idly by because they don’t have enough patients incoming, salary is being under-utilized.
All of these care coordination processes affect a hospital’s growth and revenue, not to mention the patient experience, and an EHR wouldn’t be capable of influencing them at all.
That’s why health systems need a care coordination tool powerful enough to provide insight to operations and drive the action that results from those same insights.
For many hospitals, Central Logic is that tool. We provide enterprise-level visibility into health system processes, from patient intake to discharge and every area in between. We help health systems deliver care effectively and efficiently through gap analysis, data analytics, and a proven and ongoing process improvement solution, at the heart of which lies a transfer center where all aspects of the care journey can be monitored and improved regularly over time.
What’s more, we integrate directly with leading EHRs so there’s not a single component of the patient or health system experience that remains outside the purview of organizational leaders.
Contact us today if you’re ready to deploy a system that harnesses data about your organization as effectively as your EHR harnesses patient data.