CIO Digest: Optimizing EHR Utilization

 In Enterprise Imaging

Healthcare systems have made major investments into electronic health records (EHRs). Getting the most value out of these systems is a top priority for CIOs, according to a Change Healthcare survey of CIO members of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). To accomplish this goal, hospital staff must be able to make full use of the EHR through the efficient integration of its data into their regular workflow.

One area ripe for optimization is radiology imaging. The EHR is a crucial information resource for radiologists; it provides context of care that can help reduce unnecessary testing and better inform diagnoses.

Despite its potential value, however, many radiology departments struggle to make full use of the EHR’s clinical information. The EHR is a foreign system for them, and searching for useful information is time consuming. “The information is almost always poorly integrated with the display of information in the PACS,” says radiologist Jeffrey Mendel, MD.

For radiologists, using the EHR effectively and efficiently may seem like a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be.

How to Overcome Common EHR Utilization Challenges

Wading through a complicated EHR to find relevant patient information is a big ask of radiologists. It interrupts their interpretative workflow, slowing them down. The challenge is to surface the relevant data at the right moment, and in the right format, for it to be useful.

Intelligent workflow solutions can streamline the process by integrating key information from the EHR directly into the imaging workflow. After reviewing a patient’s clinical data within a pertinent medical context, radiologists can provide enhanced recommendations in their reports. The ability to make more impactful contributions to patient care elevates the radiologist’s participation in the patient care team and can contribute to increased job satisfaction.

In a focused pilot project, Change Healthcare partnered with a customer to integrate EHR data into their radiology workflow for complex imaging cases. The results were impressive. Providing access to EHR data at the point of care added value to the customer’s process 24% of the time.

The pilot also found that in 20% of cases, the data saved the radiologists time. Significant time savings have been documented in other studies, as well.

In 21% of cases, radiologists reported that having access to EHR data improved their diagnostic confidence. In other work, improved diagnostic confidence among ED physicians has also been tied to the added benefit of EHR data.

And finally, in 8% of cases, the radiologists found that the provision of more context for care actually changed their patient recommendations, further underscoring the value of content-sensitive data at the point of care.

EHR Utilization Increases When Integrated With PACS

Radiologists need appropriate information from the EHR to provide more informed interpretations and avoid unnecessary, costly procedures. CIOs can maximize their EHR investment by ensuring EHR data is accessible and integrated into their departmental solutions.

Studies show that patients receive faster, more accurate results as EHR use rises. When equipped with easy access to the most relevant information, radiologists can participate more fully as members of the care team.

To get the entire story, read the white paper, How Intelligent Workflow can Alleviate CIO’s Top 4 Concerns.

It’s been more than two decades since the passing of the landmark Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), reform-minded legislation that established substantial patient protections. Its chief objectives were enabling consumers to maintain health coverage between jobs, while also ensuring the ...

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