The “Meaningful” Path (and Barriers) to Improving Patient Experience

There’s a positive patient experience bonus in Electronic Health Records (EHR) adoption…at least for those facilities, health systems and practices that have EHR in place. What’s more, patients are warming to the quick and convenient personal benefits, and providers are improving their demographics capture and engaging patients and families.  EHR electronic health records

As Meaningful Use approaches Stage Two (2014) hospitals and eligible professionals should have their certified electronic health records system up and running…and well on their way to qualifying under an incentive program. However, electronic communications between patient and provider–such as exchange of email–evidently has more appeal to patients than to providers.

On the plus side…

Many EHR systems give the provider office operating efficiencies and cost savings. Plus, many are patient-centric (rather than purely provider-centric). “Preliminary studies have already shown benefits to the patient, including a seamless patient experience, increased patient satisfaction, and improved information accuracy,” EHR Intelligence reports. The outcome of having better demographics data is, of course, cost savings and efficiency for the health system.

“Beyond the bottom line, there is also a link between patient and family engagement and increases in patient satisfaction. In fact, after implementing a patient-centric platform, one hospital in Illinois experienced a 6-percent increase in Press Ganey scores.”

So what’s wrong with this picture?

Problem One: The incomplete IT solution. “The drive for meaningful use has pushed health systems toward patching together disparate patient-facing applications around the provider legacy systems.”

Problem Two: Compensation. Electronic communications boost efficiency, workflow and patient satisfaction. But “barriers remain to widespread adoption of such technology,” according to a Weill Cornell Medical College study. Chief among the adoption barriers was the “physicians’ resistance to adding more tasks to their workload, and the lack of a consistent payment model for health services [via electronic communications].

The continued adoption of EHR appears to be rolling out with added benefits. “Patient-centric platforms may be the solution for more than patient and family engagement objectives,” says EHR Intelligence. “They have the potential to revolutionize the patient experience, improve patient satisfaction, and improve data accuracy, which when combined can lead to cost savings and efficiency for health systems.”

The widespread adoption of electronic communications appears to be dragging when it adds more time and effort than it saves in operating and administrative efficiencies. “Practice redesign and new payment methods are likely necessary for electronic communication to be more widely used in patient care,” the Weill Cornell study concludes.

Lonnie Hirsch


About Lonnie Hirsch

Co-Founder of Healthcare Success Strategies, Lonnie has consulted for over 2,000 health care clients during his 20-year career. Lonnie writes for many healthcare publications, and also has spoken at hundreds of venues nationally. His topics include patient experience, customer service, marketing, branding and business development.

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