5 min

EHR Optimization to Improve Clinical Workflows

Explore strategies and technologies for streamlining your electronic health record (EHR) system to enhance user experience, improve performance and increase efficiency in your healthcare organization.

Are you getting the most out of your electronic health record (EHR)? An EHR is an indispensable tool for providing efficient patient care when used appropriately, but some healthcare organizations aren’t maximizing its benefits. Optimizing your EHR can lead to enhanced communication and coordination among providers, streamlined clinical workflows and ultimately, improved patient outcomes.

The Benefits of EHRs

EHR systems are digital representations of patients’ clinical care, containing comprehensive and real-time information about their medical history, diagnoses, medications, treatment plans, immunization dates, allergies, radiology images and laboratory test results. 

This data technology has the potential to improve communication among healthcare providers, reduce errors and facilitate timely access to relevant patient data, leading to more informed and coordinated care.

EHRs enable data-driven decision-making and contribute to the long-term improvement of healthcare organizations by facilitating research, analytics and population health management, while promoting interoperability and collaboration across the healthcare ecosystem. They contribute to research and population health management and foster advancements in healthcare practices and policies. EHRs enhance patient safety and care quality by providing comprehensive and accurate medical information to healthcare providers, and streamline communication among different healthcare professionals, reducing the risk of errors and improving overall efficiency.

Common EHR Challenges

The initial implementation of EHR systems often brings challenges. Healthcare professionals may struggle with cumbersome interfaces and disrupted workflows.  Taking a holistic approach by implementing technology improvements, such as those outlined below, and providing user training and ongoing support helps ensure that your EHR contributes efficiently and effectively to overall healthcare delivery. 

To support your team and optimize your EHR, it’s important to plan for known challenges. Here are some common obstacles your team can prepare for in advance:

  • Workflow disruption: Integrating EHRs into existing workflows can disrupt established routines, potentially leading to decreased efficiency and increased workload during the integration period.
  • Data entry burden: Clinicians may find the data entry process time-consuming, taking away valuable time from patient interaction. This can contribute to burnout and dissatisfaction.
  • Interoperability issues: Inconsistent standards and lack of interoperability between different EHR systems can hinder seamless sharing of patient information among healthcare providers.
  • Alert fatigue: Excessive or irrelevant alerts and notifications within EHRs can lead to alert fatigue, causing clinicians to overlook critical information.
  • Usability challenges: Poorly designed interfaces and navigation difficulties can impede the ease of use, making it challenging for clinicians to quickly access and input relevant information.
  • Data accuracy and integrity: Inaccurate or incomplete data entry can compromise the integrity of patient records, potentially impacting the quality of care and patient safety.
  • Security concerns: Protecting patient data from unauthorized access and ensuring compliance with privacy regulations pose ongoing challenges, especially with the increasing risk of cybersecurity threats.
  • Training requirements: Learning and adapting to new EHR systems often requires substantial training, and clinicians may face difficulties in mastering the technology efficiently.
  • Resistance to change: Clinician resistance to adopting new technologies can hinder the successful implementation of EHRs. Overcoming this resistance often requires effective change management strategies.

10 Strategies to Improve Your EHR Workflow and Provider Satisfaction

To maximize the benefits of your EHR system, it is important to implement key strategies and leverage modern technologies to streamline workflows , optimize performance and enhance the user experience.

Here are 10 strategies you can use to support your team and optimize your EHR:

  1. Optimizing workflow design: Tailor EHR systems to match specific healthcare workflows to enhance efficiency.
  2. Interoperability integration: Integrate interface technology to ensure seamless communication between different healthcare systems for better data sharing and coordination.
  3. User training and support: Provide comprehensive training programs for healthcare professionals to enable EHR systems proficiency, minimizing errors and delays.
  4. Data standardization: Implement standardized data formats and coding systems to improve consistency and facilitate information exchange.
  5. Regular system updates: Keep EHR software up to date to ensure access to the latest features, performance improvements and security patches.
  6. Mobile accessibility: Allow healthcare providers to access EHRs on mobile devices to promote flexibility and responsiveness in patient care.
  7. Data security measures: Implement robust security protocols to safeguard patient information, mitigating risks associated with unauthorized access or data breaches.
  8. Customization options: Take advantage of system configuration flexibility to adapt your EHR to your specific needs and preferences.
  9. Patient engagement tools: Integrate features that enhance patient involvement, such as online portals and appointment scheduling, contributing to a more streamlined process.
  10. Analytics and reporting: Implement advanced analytics tools to enable healthcare professionals to extract valuable insights from EHR data, aiding in decision-making and process improvement.

Technologies That Can Optimize Your EHR System

EHRs are implemented using a combination of technologies such as databases, health information exchange (HIE) standards like Health Level Seven (HL7) and secure communication protocols. Additionally, software development frameworks, data security measures and interoperability standards play crucial roles in EHR systems.

Here are some technologies that can optimize and streamline your EHR system:

  • Interoperability standards: Technologies like HL7 and Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) facilitate data exchange and interoperability between different EHR systems.
  • Cloud computing: Utilizing cloud platforms allows for scalable storage, easy access to data, and collaborative features, enhancing the efficiency of EHR systems.
  • Data analytics and business intelligence: Implementing tools for data analysis and reporting helps healthcare providers derive meaningful insights from patient data, improving decision-making and patient care.
  • Mobile applications: Mobile technologies enable healthcare professionals to access EHRs on the go, enhancing flexibility and responsiveness in patient care.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML): These technologies can automate routine tasks, identify patterns in data, and provide decision support, streamlining processes within EHR systems.
  • User interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design: Intuitive and user-friendly interfaces contribute to the streamlined use of EHRs, making it easier for healthcare providers to navigate and input data.
  • Integration engines: Middleware solutions facilitate seamless integration between different healthcare systems and applications, reducing data silos and improving overall efficiency.

EHRs play an integral role in modernizing healthcare delivery, improving patient outcomes and fostering data-driven decision-making. With the right strategy and technologies in place, your healthcare organization can navigate challenges and optimize performance.

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Jamie Lynn Ray

CDW Healthcare Strategist
Jamie has over 20 years of experience leading multimillion dollar clinical and financial application services, infrastructure, information security and operational engagements. Jamie has many trusted advisory relationships throughout the U.S. and focuses on new business at CDW.