EHR Scheduling Shortcomings – And How To Fix Them
August 4, 2017
Undoubtedly, EHRs provide a tremendous step forward for healthcare. They help improve quality, efficiency, operations, safety, and ultimately the care provided to patients. Data suggests that providers and health systems are fond of them as well. As of 2015, nearly 9 out of 10 office-based physicians had adopted an EHR (HealthIT.gov). And according to a report by SK&A, 67% of all providers reported using an EHR in March of 2017. Clearly, EHRs are delivering high value, yet, there is a rub – the cost. In fact, the vast majority of providers categorize EHR spending as one of their biggest line items and they expect it only to increase.
Here in lies the problem. EHRs come with a large price tag as well as many promises. However, they cannot do everything. Realizing that your EHR is not the be-all and end-all solution may be a tough pill to swallow – but it’s a necessary one. MyHealthDirect is coming alongside EHRs to provide specialized solutions to today’s challenges like adapting to value-based care models, closing gaps in care, meeting consumer demand for self-service, and much more.
MyHealthDirect’s focus as a company is on digital care coordination. We have created patient self-scheduling and referral coordination platforms that connect patients with timely access to care. We work with EHRs to enable complex scheduling directly into providers’ calendars. Some EHRs have no ability to do any sort of patient self-scheduling. In this case, the value of partnering with a best-in-breed scheduling solution is straightforward. However, when an EHR has limited scheduling capabilities it gets tricky. The problem in these situations is that the EHR scheduling solution is so limited that it can’t adequately protect providers’ calendars, which means providers will not be willing to open their calendar to be scheduled into. If only a few of the providers are enabled, then the tool will not meet the needs of patients and will be underutilized. Put simply, here’s what EHRs can’t do:
- Can’t book into specialists or affiliates using other systems
- Can’t provide business rules to protect providers’ calendars
- Can’t provide decision tree logic to help guide patients to the right providers
The bottom line is that you can’t squeeze the functionality you need out of your existing EHR – even though you really want to. It just can’t meet your unique needs and the needs of your provider network. In our experience, it’s the automated business rules and decision tree logic that bring the level of detail and expertise needed to enable online scheduling for a medical group or health system. Any other solution without these capabilities is not worth doing.
There is another side to this coin as well that will likely go undiscovered if only using an EHR for scheduling. That is the referral coordination aspect that a specialized scheduling platform can provide. Yes, your online scheduling solution can also be configured to simultaneously enable call center agents and office staff to book appointments in real-time across your entire provider network. It doesn’t matter if they are using the same EHR or not, any provider onboarded to the solution can share their inventory and receive appointment bookings in one centralized scheduling hub. Once again, your EHR can’t do that. Read here (report) and here (case study) to learn more about our referral coordination capabilities.
To learn more about our core differentiator with EHRs please read our free guide Empower Online Scheduling with Business Rules.