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Using EHR Data: Five Things to Think About When Striving to Provide Quality Care, Stay Profitable, and Manage Compliance

Written by: Shawn Hewitt on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 Posted in:

physical therapy documentation software

As many providers deal with adopting electronic health records (EHR), there is an immense opportunity (or there should be) to use the data being documented and collected. This information can help practice owners be informed of patterns in their performance and services. It is important to have this level of insight so that you can ensure that the care and services you provide are well managed. The use of the data should translate into ways to measure what you do so that you can appropriately manage it. If you develop strong patterns to measure and manage, this allows you to do three things. One: You can control or add impact to the quality experience you provide to patients.  Two: You develop ways to manage compliance. Three: You remain profitable with proper patient management and processes.

When using or selecting an EHR, there should be some level of ROI to substantiate all the work you put into implementing automated tools. Here are just a few things to keep in mind when trying to utilize the data.

  1. You must have more than just a glorified word processor.

Often people will use electronic documentation systems to “enter” information, only to find out that it is very difficult to use any of the data being captured. This missing data picture might be in relationship to important patient clinical data, therapist productivity, referral patterns, or scheduling efficiency. When you want to use data to measure and manage your practices, it becomes important to know where you’re starting from, which you do by developing a baseline and some initial goals. Then you have to know what you want to measure and how frequently you want to measure it.  Taking these steps will help you manage against the baseline and your goals to see progress or decide on initiatives to drive improvement. Have a plan, and make sure your tools give you the insights you need and are not just a means to “enter” data.

  1. Measuring practice and therapist activity should ensure quality experiences for patients.

Just like we set goals for patients, practice owners should also set goals for their clinics and therapists. From the clinic perspective, some possible goals include the amount of time it takes to get patients scheduled or the types of reminders/contact systems to make sure patients know and understand their schedules. From a therapist perspective, maybe they each have goals to reach a certain percentage of patient satisfaction or maybe a certain outcome score or goal completion percentage by patient. Either way, if you can make sure your clinic and therapists are staying on top of their game, the downhill effect is that your patients benefit by receiving patient-centered attention and a quality experience when they participate with your practice.

  1. Reduce No-Shows and Cancellations. Keep therapists’ schedules full. Keep patients coming back.

There are many practices that “kind of know” what these numbers are. They also know that these factors can negatively impact your practice. Understanding your current rates of no-shows, cancellations, or lost referrals will establish the baseline you need to manage improvement. Having referral, visit, and appointment data readily available to see and understand promotes workflow changes, like better patient contact methods for reminders, patient follow-up calls, getting patients scheduled sooner, and maintaining clinic and therapist productivity. And all of these contribute to making sure you stay profitable. What does an increase in visits do to your annual bottom line?

  1. Stay between the lines. Stay compliant with industry requirements.

Just like in item 1, it becomes important to do more than enter information. You have to make sure the information you enter is timely and accurate. We all know that there are time frames and requirements for WHEN, WHAT, and HOW you need to document. Seeing the data collected and captured and making sure the data follows the when, what, and how will ensure that your clinic stays compliant. Reports, notifications, and dashboards are great tools to help owners gain insight to know what, when, and how something is completed.

  1. Use the data to secure your future. Use it to make your practice stand out.

Some of you may be reading this and saying, “This sounds like common sense.” If you are still with me, then I take it you understand that these are challenges for most. I have written a few other blogs about the patient experience, compliance, and quality. I come back to it because I feel passionate about the need to link concepts together. As the landscape continues to morph from volume to value through pay-for-performance, it is never a more critical time to understand that patients and payers will want and demand value and quality. Our goal is to make sure practices have the tools to provide that value while staying compliant and while staying open for business (profitable). Practices that do not adapt to ensuring quality, reducing costs, and improving patients’ overall health and experience will eventually disappear. However, practices that use data to measure and manage will gain the edge they need to control quality, compliance, and profitability. Once that is achieved, the next step is for practices to use the data to market themselves. Show patients, payers, and providers (referral sources) that you have what it takes to use data to deliver standout quality and value.

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