How To Address Ophthalmology EHR Usability Issues

How to solve your ophthalmology EHR usability issues: Train your staff, customize your settings, and optimize your workflows

Electronic health records (EHRs) are powerful tools that give incredible power, usability, and flexibility to health care providers, and by some estimates, nearly 96 percent of hospitals in the United States use an EHR system.

Electronic health records are a core component of a health care provider’s IT system, and they power a wide range of tools, including schedule management, appointment scheduling, billing, pre-authorization, and provider access to a patient’s medical charts. Specifically, they decrease charting time and the amount of effort needed to document a patient’s visit while also lessening the complexity that is required to meet regulatory reporting standards for health care providers and also improving an office’s usability, operations, and patient handling ability.

But despite their incredible usability and flexibility, many health care providers struggle to use their optometry software and electronic health record systems, and this can impact office operations and affect the quality of patient care that a provider can deliver. Common EHR problems include:

  • Difficulty capturing documentation
  • Increased day to day burdens
  • Lack of interoperability with different programs
  • Problematic access to and reporting for EHR performance and other variables

This blog will look at common EHR usability issues and how to overcome them.

The problem with EHR usability issues

Even as electronic health record systems continue to develop and become more sophisticated, problems persist, and these problems have a variety of impacts. Chief among them is that issues with EHRs could potentially lead to harm to patients. These can include problems related to system design and implementation, with issues including:

  • Drug dosing errors: Drug dosing errors can stem from the removal or inappropriate placement of a decimal point during the entry, which can lead to overdosing or inadequate doses.
  • A cluttered interface: A confusing dashboard interface can result in the health care provider choosing the wrong medication for a patient.
  • Alert fatigue: Too many alerts can cause providers to begin to ignore them, which can lead to a variety of errors. Too many alerts can also cause providers to lose concentration or have workflows that are disrupted.
  • Lack of consistency in data entry: A complex or confusing dashboard or EHR interface can result in click fatigue, and that increases the risk of error and can cause burnout or frustration among health care providers.

Obviously, these optometry practice software problems have a variety of root causes. The root cause of optometry EHR usability issues include inadequate training, a lack of attention to settings, and simple subjective criteria such as dashboard design, font size, and display color. Luckily, a good EHR system will have a design that overcomes many of these issues, and a full review of an EHR prior to signing a use contract will ensure that a health care provider winds up with a system they can use.

Recommendations to overcome electronic health record usability issues

  • Choose an electronic health record system that has great flexibility and opportunities for customization. Customization is key to EHR use since each user will have different staff, different processes, and different preferences. There is no true off-the-shelf EHR system, and a good system that works well for a particular health care provider will offer full customization ability so you can have a system that works smoothly for all your providers.
  • Assess your workflow needs in detail before choosing an EHR system or HIPAA compliance The best way to find an electronic health record system that works for you is to perform a detailed workflow analysis of all your operations and procedures. Once the process is fully spelled out, work with the eyecare EHR provider or your eyecare EHR vendor to align your workflow with the EHR workflow and understand how the electronic health record system will enable decision support, documentation, and data presentation.
  • Conduct thorough training of all your staff on the EHR and all its features, quirks, and tools. As with any powerful new piece of technology, getting to know how to use an electronic health record may be most of the battle. One or more training sessions for either your health care professionals, front office staff, back-office staff, and physicians may be needed to get to fully know your system and get the most out of it. This training should include both classroom-style instruction and hands on training so your staff can be more familiar with the system. Role-based training for specific workflows may help key staff understand how their interfaces work, and make sure to appoint “superusers” or system custodians who can be resources for peers who need help or new employees who are onboarding.
  • Align your workflows to the EHR. Often, simple tweaks to your workflow can go a long way to making your EHR more usable. This can include proper settings for alerts, how to present and group lab results, how to record numeric data, where to source medication content, and optimizing third-party apps that your clinicians already use.

Find the EHR that works for you

Over the past decade or so, electronic health records have emerged as indispensable components of modern health care offices, but despite their revolutionary power, they have not solved all problems for every office, and in some cases, they can exacerbate the problems they were meant to solve. While any office will have problems to confront and solve, electronic health records are key for a number of reasons – they can help to ensure the health and usability of patient records and be used to enhance patient safety and improve patient outcomes. Luckily, a bit of work up front can help solve those problems, and that can include training, custom settings, standardize workflows, and finding an EHR that has an ample amount of flexibility.

Eye Care Leaders has multiple solutions for practices looking for a powerful, intuitive, simple to use electronic health record system. Based on the company’s myCare platform, tools like iMedicWare allow providers to take control of their practice with a single-platform EHR, PM, ASC, and optical solution that provide powerful solutions and analytics reporting.

To learn more, contact Eye Care Leaders today and schedule a free consultation.

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