PAs and Electronic Health Records: Get Involved Now

EHRs Should Fully Capture PA Contribution

December 8, 2017

By Kate Maloney

An increasing number of healthcare professionals are moving toward utilizing Electronic Health Records (EHRs). EHRs are replacing paper charts, and offer many benefits both to patients and providers. Aaron Browne, a PA practicing at Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater, Minnesota, and head of AAPA’s EHR work group, and has over 13 years of experience consulting with practices on EHR adoption and optimization and explains why PAs need to get involved in the design of these EHR systems now.

EHRs are extremely important to today’s medical practice.

Information technology has brought incredible value to medical practice. With EHRs, providers may no longer need to search for individual paper records, decipher hard-to-read handwriting, or spend valuable hours making unnecessary phone calls and sending faxes. With fully integrated and properly implemented EHR systems, comprehensive patient data can be accessible instantaneously. EHRs can also help provide medical decision support, enabling PAs and other health professionals to recommend effective treatments. EHRs similarly help clinics and health systems more quickly capture reimbursement information, and ensure financial health.

EHRs must be functional for health professionals

EHRs can save time and improve the quality and continuity of care, but the technology is only valuable when health professionals can efficiently use the system in every-day practice. PAs should be as proficient in their EHR as they are with their stethoscopes or point-of-care ultrasounds. PAs need to make sure they are comfortable using the charting tools and the shared chart; while it may seem arduous at first, using the EHR as intended will save time in documentation and prevent unnecessary chart bloat.  PAs can be good stewards of the EHR and encourage correct usage to avoid administrative burden.

PAs must be involved in the development and implementation of EHRs.

If considerations for PAs and other professionals are not communicated during the implementation process, omissions could result in significant rebuild or workflow adjustment costs.  For instance, many EHRs do not allow PAs to be categorized by specialty and simply have one generic “PA” option. Further, to truly recognize the value PAs bring to healthcare teams, PA patient care and reimbursement contributions must be specifically attributed to their efforts.

PAs will be most familiar with how a practice manages notes, orders, and cosignatory requirements.  They are in the best position to speak to the PA’s role in the local practice environment, and how the EHR should be set up to reflect their workflows. PAs should volunteer for user groups and provide their feedback at every opportunity.

EHRs will eventually be in every practice setting, and it is imperative for PAs to be involved.  The practice workflow needs of PAs and other professionals should be addressed during the EHR implementation process, when possible, so the impact of PAs on patient care and practice productivity can be fully captured and recognized.

AAPA’s Reimbursement Team has developed a Toolkit of materials that will help PAs navigate EHR systems with their employers and EHR vendors. You can find this toolkit here.

Kate Maloney is AAPA’s senior manager of corporate communications.  Contact her at [email protected].