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How You Use Your EHR Can be Almost as Important as Which One You Use!

Blog Title and Photo of Dr. Guiliana

By John V. Guiliana, DPM, MS

Of course, your choice of electronic health records matters. I wouldn’t be a passionate team member of  ModMed if I didn’t think so.  But no matter which EHR you use, how you use it also has a profound effect on your job satisfaction, productivity, and ultimately patient satisfaction.  

More and more quantitative literature is emerging regarding the integration of support staff into the use of EHRs. While using a medical scribe constitutes a full integration, many healthcare providers can benefit from a lesser integration, resulting in a hybrid of how I often witness documentation being performed today. 

I frequently see physicians struggling to keep up with their documentation, allowing the EHR to disrupt face-to-face and meaningful interaction with their patients, and completing chart notes long after hours and on weekends. It doesn’t have to be that way! 

Let’s start by considering what a physician’s time is worth.  Then consider what many have come to know as one of my favorite business philosophies… “if you need something, you pay for it whether you buy it or not.” Lastly, don’t just take my word about the benefits associated with utilizing staff to help document. Let’s take a look at a study. 

Having staff directly interact with the EHR can result in a lower physician documentation burden, a more efficient workflow,  and improved patient-physician interaction and communication, according to a study conducted by Kaiser Permanente, and published in JAMA Internal Medicine: Association of Medical Scribes in Primary Care With Physician Workflow and Patient Experience”.

For those of you who merely want the “crib notes” of this study, here is a summary of the findings:  

  • Allowing staff to have direct interaction with the EHR caused better patient interactions. 735 patients were interviewed for the study, and 57% claimed that their physicians interacted less than usual with the computer during the visit, and focused more on them. 
  • Utilizing the team approach for documentation caused physician job satisfaction to rise, with many citing a significant improvement in their quality of work life.  
  • 79% of the physicians claimed that using the team approach to documentation has enabled them to effectively see more patients. During the 4th quarter test period, physicians reported an average rise in practice revenue of 7.7% year over year due to staff alleviating some documentation burden. 

I think these facts speak for themselves, and I suspect we’ll see more studies corroborating these findings.  I have witnessed these results myself firsthand during consultations. But the point I want to emphasize in this blog is that making this subtle change in your documentation process does not have to be an all-or-nothing decision. While many practices should consider the deployment of full-time scribes, that might not be best suited for most practices. But at a minimum, in addition to utilizing patient engagement features which allow the patients to enter specific data directly into the software, the staff should be participating in most of the initial clinical data intake. Can your practice afford to make this change? In reality, can you afford not to?… Because when you need something, you pay for it whether you buy it or not! 

This blog is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial, legal, medical or consulting advice. Please consult with your legal counsel or other qualified advisor to ensure compliance with applicable laws, regulations and standards.

By John V. Guiliana, DPM, MS

By John V. Guiliana, DPM, MS

Dr. Guiliana is a nationally recognized speaker and author on topics pertaining to medical practice management. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Podiatric Practice Management and holds a master’s degree in Healthcare Management. He has authored numerous columns in various journals and is the co-author of 31 ½ Essentials to Running Your Medical Practice, as well as The Million Dollar Practice…Keys to Success. Dr. Guiliana is currently a Medical Director of Podiatry for Modernizing Medicine’s award-winning technology. He can be reached at [email protected]