This Toolkit is Just What You Need to Optimize Your EHR

These Materials Will Help You Advocate for Efficient and Effective EHR Systems

November 12, 2019

By Sondra DePalma, DHSc, PHA, PA-C

The electronic health record (EHR) is transforming healthcare with the goals of achieving more coordinated care for patients and better health for populations. AAPA’s EHR Toolkit, including the EHR infographic, Optimizing EHR Systems, provides recommendations and best practices to make EHRs fully functional and operational for all healthcare professionals, including PAs.

The EHR Toolkit contains five resources, including the EHR infographic, to help PAs, employers, and EHR vendors ensure EHR systems are designed, selected, and implemented with functionality considerations for PAs, ultimately resulting in more efficient and high-quality patient care:

These materials have been developed in concert with PAs and are designed to help PAs advocate for more efficient and effective EHR systems. Whether a clinical PA in private practice or a healthcare leader, the AAPA EHR Toolkit can help you navigate the EHR marketplace and explain how these systems can be improved to facilitate high-quality care and maximize PA practice.

To achieve the full benefit of EHRs, the systems must be functional and efficient to gain provider acceptance and promote optimal patient care. Design inefficiency for PAs and collaborating physicians may inhibit acceptance and adoption of EHRs, lead to noncompliance with regulations and institutional policies, and adversely affect patient care and health promotion.

Four key considerations for optimizing EHRs include: design, transparency, patient care and quality, and compliance.

  • Include PAs in the design, build, testing, implementation, and ongoing management of EHR systems. EHR developers must consider the needs of PAs from the inception of software design. EHR vendors have historically focused on physician and nursing end-users when designing systems. Key PA attributes might be overlooked due to lack of awareness by these subject matter experts. Because development flaws and oversights are often difficult to correct once the system is fully designed and implemented, of EHR end users’ needs should be contemplated and reflected in system design and implementation to mitigate safety risks, achieve full functionality, and realize maximum benefits of use.
  • EHR systems must identify and track professional services delivered by PAs. EHRs should be able to track the contribution of every clinician who provides professional services to patients. Because of “incident to,” shared visit billing, and different models of delivering team-based care, the contribution of a PA’s services may be unaccounted by traditional measures such as billing claims, relative value units, or volume of services rendered. EHRs should design methods of measuring the contribution of services provided by PAs to ensure transparency in healthcare. This identification of professional work is important for clinical assessment, practice improvement, measuring productivity and care contribution, and management of population health.
  • EHRs must ensure that PAs receive information on the patients they treat to improve care and follow-up. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has recommended that ordering providers be identified on all test orders and reports, be notified of results, and have result notifications remain in inboxes until addressed. Therefore, EHRs need to ensure that orders and test results are appropriately assigned to the ordering PA. This is important for patient safety and healthcare quality.
  • Ensure adaptability to reflect various legal, regulatory and compliance requirements. EHRs should be capable of complying with federal, state, and facility policies and regulations. Because requirements, such as physician co-signature, may vary based on State law or institutional policy, adaptability of EHR configurations is necessary to ensure compliance for some without being unnecessarily burdensome for others.

When appropriately designed and implemented, EHRs can improve quality, increase patient safety, improve operational efficiencies, provide cost savings, and improve patient experience and satisfaction.

For more information regarding AAPA’s EHR Toolkit, please contact Sondra DePalma at [email protected].