Solving the problem of frustrated electronic health record (EHR) end-users can seem an insurmountable task. Fortunately, turning frustrated, unhappy users into EHR champions is not as daunting as it seems. A great place to start is with an optimization assessment, a service that can identify both short quick-fix and long-term solutions to ease user aggravation and foster ongoing buy-in necessary for full EHR benefit realization.
Before we jump to the obvious question of “how so,” let’s first explore the “why.” Beyond curing problematic morale issues, it is important for an organization to address unhappy end-users. Turning frustrated employees into EHR champions can reap positive benefits for both themselves and the organization.
First, unhappy users left unattended can develop negative EHR opinions which can breed negativity across the work place and slow productivity. Second, an unhappy user rarely fully utilizes the system and therefore fails to meet internal initiatives. In fact, unhappy users often substitute application workarounds as a quick fix to their frustrations. For example, a physician who is required to electronically authorize prescriptions before sending them to the pharmacy may become so infuriated with the EHR that they become unwilling to participate in this simple action. The physician’s workaround might be to assign authorization to a nurse under his login. Admittedly, there are numerous things wrong with this prescription authorization scenario beyond just working around the technology, but the reality is that these occurrences are commonplace as an outcome of user frustration.
Spending one-on-one time with every frustrated user is an overwhelming scenario for even the most sufficiently staffed EHR implementation team. Then again, dedicating one internal expert resource to focus on several quick-fix user frustrations can make a significant difference. For example, if an end-user is accessing a specific EHR functionality in an overly long way, sharing a short cut that saves a few clicks can result in an instant, easy big win. Demonstrating just a few easy time-savers is a positive first step in easing frustrations and building momentum to begin securing the buy-in necessary to effectively take on larger optimization efforts. While an internal resource is always preferred in this dedicated role, a consultant with the required expertise is the second best option. This small, short-term investment can pay off in instant positive returns.
In supporting the facility’s larger long-term optimization efforts, an EHR utilization and optimization assessment further identifies all the areas affected to direct focus to achieve complete system utilization — from problems with application design, build to workflow, interface errors and hurdles facing end-users. For instance, a user might not have the assigned screen view to effectively perform their job, or the user is not using the system the right way as taught during training. Moreover, optimization assessments will oftentimes identify application functionality that end-users have forgotten since training. But once those employees are quickly retrained, they can increase their production by saving significant time and clicks.
Conducting an optimization assessment to identify user obstacles upfront will steer an organization on the right path to having as many EHR champions as possible who understand the system’s benefits and embrace it as part of their daily work routines.
Jerrilyn Cowper is Solutions Manager, Allscripts Services at CTG Health Solutions and a healthcare information technology (HIT) services leader with over 25 years of executive, operational, and consulting experience.