- The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) recently released its EHR Toolkit to promote the use of EHR systems designed, selected, and implemented with functionality considerations specifically tailored for physician assistants (PAs).
PAs are state-licensed to deliver medical and surgical services. According to statistics provided by AAPA, more than 115,000 PAs currently practice medicine and prescribe medications across the country.
The PA-centric resource includes a best practices checklist, recommendations about best practices for EHR vendors, points for discussion between PAs and their employers, and other guidance.
The best practices checklist informs healthcare organizations how to optimize their systems to suit the needs of PAs accessing patient EHRs.
Recommendations include ensuring there is an individual in the organization a PA can speak to about questions or concerns regarding EHR system design, implementation, or functionality. Additionally, AAPA advised that all professional services delivered by PAs be captured in the EHR. The academy also recommended PAs be able to obtain a report from the EHR system for all services delivered.
One recommendation reminded organizations to ensure PAs are able to gain entry into EHR systems without significant hassle.
Healthcare organizations are advised to ensure “the EHR system does not contain requirements that are more restrictive or prohibitive than federal or state law unless specified by practice or facility policy.”
Problems with authorization and EHR access can lead to security protocol breaches. A study earlier this year showed 73 percent of providers share passwords to obtain EHR access at work. The practice is particularly common when individuals without the necessary EHR access credentials are asked to carry out a task they are not ordinarily authorized to do.
Ensuring PAs have the necessary EHR access credentials to carry out daily clinical and operational processes could strengthen system security.
In total, AAPA provided 10 best practices recommendations to improve EHR system use among PAs and enhance clinical efficiency.
The academy also provided the following list of best practices to guide EHR system design modifications for vendors:
1.EHR systems must be able to identify, track, and quantify work performed by PAs and other providers.
2.EHR vendors must include PAs as part of the healthcare team that provides input into the design, build, testing, implementation, and ongoing management of EHR systems, in order to identify key aspects of PA operability which might be overlooked.
3.EHR systems must be flexible to take into account the unique situation of each PA.
As part of the guide, AAPA also offered suggestions for discussion points PAs should bring up to their employers. Major talking points center on EHR design and implementation, transparency, quality, safety, and compliance.
“PAs should be included as part of the team that provides input into the design, build, testing, implementation, and ongoing management of EHR systems,” recommended AAPA. “Without PA participation, key aspects of PA participation might be overlooked.”
The academy also provided a freely-accessible white paper outlining the importance of integration and inclusion of PAs in EHR use.
“EHRs should be designed to contribute to transparency and measure the contribution of patient care provided by PAs,” wrote authors. “Methods of measuring the contribution of services provided by PAs should be incorporated into the functionality of EHRs.”
The EHR Toolkit closed with an infographic illustrating problems and solutions with EHR system design, transparency, compliance, patient care, and quality. The infographic shows how designing adaptable EHR systems with PAs as part of the development and implementation process can improve patient care.
Together, these resources equip healthcare organizations and health IT companies with insights by and for PAs to ensure a higher level of EHR usability and hospital staff satisfaction.