Optimizing Office EHRs Principle 12: Realize EHR Benefits

Principle 12 of a 12-part series on Optimizing Office EHRs

Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now...

It's time to realize EHR benefits


EHRs are here to stay. They can be a liability or an asset.  Yet so many physicians have yet to realize EHR benefits. My goal for this series is that physicians who are struggling with their EHR will take the time to learn and implement these 12 Principle for optimizing the office EHR.  Hopefully I have provided you with the rationale and action steps for success.

In this final chapter of the series, I will summarize my take on what specific measures will help you to realize EHR benefits. If you have specific questions, email me at psmith@healthITaccelerator.com. Whether you are a physician, office staff member, "EHR fixer, or just a patient who would like his/her own physician to struggle less, I hope you are able to put these 12 Principles to use. Let's help physicians realize EHR benefits for themselves and their patients.

Excited medical personnel cheer and give one another high fives during staff meeting, celebrating EHR benefits.
Everyone cheers when you realize EHR benefits from optimizing your EHR and office workflows.

Principle #12: Realize EHR Benefits

The 21st century office practice flounders without an EHR.  CMS penalizes you for not having one.  The migration toward interoperability requires digitalization of patients' medical records. Personalized medicine and the comprehensive health record (CHR) assume an optimized EHR foundation.

The following benefits should drive your goal-setting for optimizing your EHR.

Realize EHR benefits for your patients:

  • Sharing your notes on your patient portal will create transparency and openness with your patients.  This provides them an opportunity to correct errors and clarify both diagnoses and treatment plans.
  • Direct messaging reduces phone tag and improves patient communication and satisfaction.
  • Your patient portal allows the patient to have access to their records anywhere, at any time.
  • Electronic prescribing allows one trip to the pharmacy and less waiting for new prescriptions and refills.
  • Staying on time improves the patient experience in your office.
  • Pushing a continuity of care document (CCD) to a colleague for referrals and consults allows for safer hand-offs.

Realize EHR benefits for your staff:

  • Staff has immediate access to notes so they can help reinforce education and answer patient questions at the end of an office visit and with subsequent direct messaging and phone calls.
  • As you stay on time, you staff also gets home on time.
  • The staff spends less time playing defense on why appointments are running late.
  • Your staff is more engaged in helping you create a better patient experience and better documentation in the chart.
  • They no longer have to pull physical charts for phone calls and visits.
  • They have learned how best to use the EHR.
  • Health maintenance and disease-specific reminders allow the staff to better track and recall patients for timely follow-up.

Realize EHR benefits for the physician/provider:

  • You finish notes at the time of each encounter, so they are more accurate, complete, and available to your staff.
  • You have optimized your schedule to stay on time for patient appointments.
  • Your productivity increases.
  • You find it easier to capture bonuses through accountable care organization (ACO) incentives and Medicare's Quality Payment Program (QPP).
  • You have all the patients' records in one place, available any time and anywhere.
  • You stop doing notes in the evenings and weekends.
  • Smart clinical decision support (CDS) helps trap errors and omissions.
  • Reduce payment denials.

It makes sense for physicians to optimize their office systems/processes and realize EHR benefits for everyone.  If you have questions, please feel free to email me at psmith@healthITaccelerator.com.

Action Plan for Principle #12: Realize EHR Benefits

  • Commit to optimizing your EHR.
  • Complete the Action Plan for each of the 12 Principles
  • Don't stop until you realize EHR benefits you desire.


Catch the Introduction for this series:


More on the 12 Principles for Optimizing the Office EHR (Published weekly):

  1. Know what you want. See "First, do no (EHR) harm"
  2. Commit to moving forward. See "Don’t look back"
  3. See your EHR as a practice improvement activity.  See "Where do we begin?" 
  4. Use Your EMR as an EHR. See "Is Your EMR an EHR?
  5. Eliminate Waste. See "A penny saved, is better than a poke in the eye"
  6. Make the EHR Work for You. See   "Know thyself".
  7. Reduce Cognitive Load.  See “Saved time will keep us together".
  8. Patient Focused. See "Whenever I call you friend”.
  9. Rediscover Your EHR. See "Read between the lines".
  10. Invest for EHR Success. See "First measure the cost".
  11. Work Your Plan. See "Eating the elephant one bite at a time".
  12. Realize EHR Benefits. See "Nothing’s “gonna” stop us now" on this page.

The 10 Myths of Office EHR

Myth #1:  I don't own my EHR, so I cannot fix it.

Myth #2: We have the wrong EHR for my practice.

Myth #3:  There is no way the EHR can save me time.

Myth #4:  I just need to go back to paper charts.

Myth #5:  EHR office notes are never going to be usable.

Myth #6:  The EHR cannot make my patients safer.

Myth #7: I don't have the time to fix my EHR.

Myth #8:  It's not up to me to fix my EHR.

Myth #9:  To use my EHR, I have to see less patients.

Myth #10: You don't understand, my practice is different.

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