How Health Execs Can Get the Most Mileage Out of EHRs

May 15, 2018

A new survey by Black Book Research found the top requested services from patients are available through EHRs.

It’s no secret that patients are expecting the same level of customer service technology from healthcare organizations that they receive from banks and retail businesses.

A new survey of patients found that the top requested services from patients include advanced technology to interact with providers-and many of those features are available through EHRs.

The survey, by Black Book Research, released in April 2018, found that 84% of healthcare consumers are seeking the most technologically advanced and electronically communicative medical organizations available. However, 89% of healthcare consumers under age 40 years said that they are unsatisfied with their hospitals technology capabilities. When asked about inpatient experiences with hospitals, 92% of healthcare consumers said they are dissatisfied with accessing their complete medical record. Eighty-five percent of healthcare consumers surveyed expressed dissatisfaction with telehealth options.

Sasha TerMaat, chair of the Electronic Health Record Association (EHRA), says that fully utilizing the functionality of EHRs could provide added benefits to both patients and providers.

“For example, e-prescribing and clinical decision support tools available through the EHR help clinicians assess treatment options by presenting reminders at the point of care,” TerMaat says. “And thanks to EHRs, patients are able to make appointments, ask questions, and access their health information and lab results through patient portals, rather than playing phone tag with their doctors.”

For hospitals, the use of technology in communicating with patients is becoming an increasingly important as patient satisfaction has become a metric in determining reimbursements and achieving incentive goals. Doug Brown, managing partner for Black Book Research, says that patients are rating hospitals on both clinical and financial communications.

“Healthcare consumers more frequently interact through electronic media in 2018, and while they value contact with their providers, they don't have the patience for lacks in hospital interoperability, incorrect billing and access to scheduling and results," Brown says.

Sixty-nine percent of healthcare consumers say that business office and insurance processes are important in determining patient satisfaction, according to the survey. Brown says that revenue cycle management channels of healthcare IT systems rated the lowest of among patient experiences.

“Part of this is probably due in part to patient expectations that have been set beyond most hospital's technological capabilities for interoperability with both other providers and payers,” Brown says.

Because 88% of healthcare consumers blame hospitals, and not EHRs, for technology communication issues, TerMaat says that healthcare organizations have a responsibility to maximize the services provided by their systems.

“Overall, better access to data provided by EHRs leads to better patient care and better health,” TerMaat says.

Black Book says that 78% of hospitals reported not making any technology improvements around patient engagement, interoperability or patient communications for 2018. Case studies by EHRA on interoperability success stories in healthcare organizations found that increased interoperability can lead to improved care coordination, more time with patients, more complete documentation when patients interact with specialists, as well as a decrease in faxing, phone calls, and hand-written correspondence that can be lost or misplaced by patients accustomed to digital communications.

“Patients expect and want to interact more with hospitals through digital channels like email, apps, and social media rather than interacting on a traditionally personal level with clinical and financial back office staff," Brown says.