Electronic health records (EHRs) are well-known among the medical community for streamlining healthcare administration for hospitals and patients alike. However, while many healthcare organizations have great patient activation rates, adoption rates remain poor.
Fortunately, it is possible to drive long-term EHR adoption by addressing common patient concerns and implementing an improved digital transformation strategy.
What Are Patient Concerns Regarding EHR Adoption?
People are busy. Emails and notifications already saturate their digital lives, and important medical emails can get lost in the noise. If patients don’t have a reason to specifically visit Epic’s MyChart app, they may view EHR emails as more spam in their inboxes and ignore them.
Another major concern patients have is security. They worry that by creating an account via Epic’s MyChart app, they are subjecting their personal information to hackers. This is especially true of older patients, who may be skeptical of sharing personal information online. To them, putting any personal information on the internet is nerve-wracking, and they would rather just speak to a real person, face-to-face.
An additional patient barrier is access to technology. Whether patients lack access to the internet, a computer, or a smart device, any of these technology gaps can keep them from proper EHR adoption. Most EHRs also function best on desktops, making technology a barrier even for some smartphone users.
Finally, language barriers can also be usage blockers. Many portals are offered only in English, which automatically excludes those who have other primary languages. Even those with English as a first language often lack proper health literacy, which can make health nomenclature difficult to understand. This issue is compounded for those with other native tongues.
Everyone Wins With Streamlined Processes
EHRs have the power to drastically reduce manual processes and wasted administrative time, which benefits both providers and patients. Take billing: Some organizations have more than 50% or more of their collections done via MyChart. Gone are the days of mailing an invoice to a patient, waiting to get a check back, and processing it. Now, it’s just a matter of sending a portal notification to the patient and having them click a link to enter bank information. This has saved money previously spent on billing management, as well as the cost of bad debt collection.
Physicians also benefit from the efficiencies of automation. Their workload has decreased now that they can quickly respond to patients’ questions via MyChart. Physicians can also triage questions to nurses when applicable, such as when patients ask about drug interactions. That saves time and ultimately provides more efficiency and job satisfaction for everyone involved. Yet, if physician work queues are not configured properly, physicians may feel as if their workload has increased. Therefore, it is important to utilize industry best practices when setting up in-basket work queues.
Digital Transformation in Healthcare
Ten years ago, the revenue in healthcare was based on a “fee for service” model. Every time a healthcare provider saw a patient, they got paid. Now, healthcare is transitioning to value-based care, in which physicians have a certain amount of capitation funds each month. If they can use the patient portal to keep those patients healthy and educated, it behooves both the physician and patient. Rather than scheduling unnecessary visits, the physician or the physician’s assistant can use the portal to assist with care, whether that’s sending dietary recommendations, health literature, or other educational material. More visits from a patient no longer mean more money for the physician, which makes healthcare providers more likely to take a comprehensive and long-term approach to care.
All of this is part of the digital transformation in healthcare—it is critical that organizations have a digital transformation strategy to address these changes. For instance, physicians can create plans to leverage personal health devices and smartwatch data as part of their patient care. It’s all about leveraging technology in a way that meets both patient and physician needs to manage population health while driving down costs.
CTG Support for Long-Term EHR Adoption
This digital transformation in healthcare is only beginning. And it’s only natural that hospitals and physicians want to stay ahead of the curve by increasing EHR adoption. Yet, hospitals don’t have to go it alone. CTG accelerates digital transformation strategy by providing clients with numerous services:
1. An Inbound Call Center
Sometimes patients prefer to talk to someone on the phone—especially if they’re older or experience technical difficulties. The CTG inbound call center helps route these types of concerns appropriately. The center can also support outreach and engagement efforts to help get patients signed up for the MyChart portal or prepared for a telehealth appointment. A quick phone call to assist or prepare patients can save hours of lost time that might have occurred if a patient were frustrated with the technology or unable to navigate it. Furthermore, patients are more open to migrating to the new technology if they know someone will be there to assist with any difficulties. CTG’s patient portal support center typically achieves more than a 99.3% successful first contact resolution, meaning your patients will be happy and your Tier-2 support teams will have more hours back in the day to work on strategic initiatives.
2. Targeted Communications
As with all communications strategies, messages need to be targeted and relevant to patients. CTG can assist with this by offering content and information that applies to patients based on their specific medical issues and history. Again, this benefits both patient and physician. The patient feels cared for with the specific advice, and the physician can retain touchpoints with patients even while they’re at home. The portal is also a cost-effective way of doing outreach rather than phone calls. Just think how much more quickly push notifications can be sent to 500 people versus making 500 phone calls. Because it’s such a comprehensive solution, the portal becomes the patients’ door to better health outcomes and longer lives.
3. Technical Support for Patients
If patients need assistance with activation and portal navigation, CTG can help. In fact, more than 50% of the calls CTG receives are just to solve login issues. These are common and valid questions, especially for patients who may not be as familiar with the technology. However, these types of questions are not a good use of time for front desk staff when they could be addressing other tasks associated with patient management. Other administrative issues and questions can also easily be answered by CTG, such as how long it should take to get test results back or how to get in contact with a previous care provider.
4. Workflow Education
CTG helps healthcare providers with EHR implementation in their everyday processes. An EHR system is only as good as patients’ access to and encouragement to use it. Many physicians and hospitals now send pre-visit documentation to patients ahead of time, rather than asking patients to spend their first 25 minutes filling out a stack of forms in the office. Everything is done in advance online, and then the hospital or physician’s office can follow up with any reminders as needed.
Clinical staff should encourage patients to sign up for the portal as part of the process, making it clear that this is a requirement for patients’ engagement in their own well-being. The key here is not just asking patients to sign up, but rather communicating that the EHR is a vital part of the hospital’s processes. CTG helps employees become EHR ambassadors and equips them to point patients toward their portal every step of the way. EHR adoption is a driver of better patient outcomes, so encouraging migration to a healthcare organization’s portal is in the best interests of the patient, even if they don’t know it yet.
Clearly, there are several benefits of EHR implementation. To ensure robust EHR adoption, physicians and hospitals must address patient concerns appropriately by leveraging the resources available to them. EHRs are the new normal for healthcare—and that’s not changing anytime soon.
To accelerate your organization’s digital change management and drive EHR adoption, connect with CTG today.
Joseph Esdale has more than 20 years of experience in IT Services for healthcare. He has an MBA, and is ITIL® Expert certified. Joe has practical Help Desk experience at all levels of service, starting his IT career as a Level 1 agent, and moving into the roles of supervisor, manager, and director for Help Desk operations. He has also managed Help Desk technology teams, and developed and deployed ITSM ticketing systems for myriad organizations.