8 Hidden Ways to Unlock Massive EHR Value

09.12.18 TigerConnect Enterprise, Healthcare, Industry Insights
8 Hidden Ways to Unlock Massive EHR Value

How clinical communication solutions close the gaps in EHR functionality to save time, boost productivity, and deliver true ROI

The EHR is by far your hospital’s single biggest IT expenditure, but are you truly seeing a measurable return on that investment? As a system of record, the EHR holds valuable patient information. That’s the (relatively) easy part. The hard part is taking that information and putting it to work at the point of care. This is where a well-implemented Clinical Communication & Collaboration (CC&C) solution can pay dividends.

For what is comparatively a tiny fraction of the cost, a clinical communication solution can help unlock substantial productivity from the EHR by connecting key staff and making patient data actionable in that last mile of care. A CC&Cs key difference lies in its ability to effectively merge system-generated data within a clinical messaging layer that is both smartphone-friendly and easy to use.

CC&C solutions complement the EHR by focusing on areas that the EHR was never designed to address, including:

  • Connecting the entire organization, not just clinical staff
  • Keeping communication flowing during outages
  • Integrating with other EHR systems
  • Messaging colleagues by name or role based on who’s on duty now
  • Replacing pagers and integrate with your answering service
  • Rapidly creating care team groups
  • Sending on-the-fly broadcast messages to large groups

Here are four ways Clinical Communication and Collaboration (CC&C) platforms close the gaps in EHR functionality to save time, boost productivity, and deliver true EHR ROI.

One Platform Connects Staff & Affiliates Across the Health System

Imagine if only half the athletes on a sports team could communicate with each other. The odds of winning a championship would be all but impossible. Too often, that’s the situation for health systems where multiple EHRs are being used. And since caring for patients requires the time and energy from both clinical and non-clinical staff across a range of facility types, not connecting everyone on a single platform seems like a recipe for trouble. So it’s no surprise when we see longer ED wait times, lower bed turnover, slower discharges, and a higher incidence of medical errors during patient transfers.

This is where a CC&C’s magic kicks in. CC&C’s connect the entire health system – including clinical and non-clinical staff – all on a single platform in an easy, flexible, fully integrated way, and at a fraction of the cost of an EHR license.

By centralizing data (EHR, nurse call, alerts, etc.) from disparate systems and vendors, CC&C solutions seamlessly blend real-time patient information with robust communication capabilities into a single, easy-to-use, mobile-friendly experience. This fast access to information and people helps staff do things like coordinate patient transfers between facilities, resolve medication issues, or message a PCP when his or her patient gets admitted to the hospital with heart issues.

Hidden Functionality Gaps in EHR Mobile Apps
– No centralized directory between facilities, particularly when different EHRs are in place
– EHR license required – non-clinical staff are left out of the process
– Messages become a permanent part of the patient record
– No mass notification capabilities
– No alternate way to escalate messages when connectivity is poor

Clinical Communication Platform
+ Entire health system under a single directory
+ All staff – clinical or non-clinical – have access to two-way messaging
+ Flexible freeform messaging supports real-time situational needs
+ Broadcast messages inform the entire organization, a department or team
+ Uses SMS to alert a user of a message when a data connection or Wi-Fi is unavailable

Outages

Service interruptions and EHR outages are inevitable. Weather events, malware attacks, hardware failures – any one of these can bring an EHR down and take your communications with it.

Because advanced CC&C solutions are cloud-based and operate on their own separate channel – LTE or WiFi – they bypass this risk and keep communication flowing during a crisis, when it’s needed most. Teams can continue to message and collaborate while broadcast messaging keeps the organization informed of things like system status, threat levels, and situational updates. Executive staff can strategize asynchronously in real-time without relying on email or endless phone calls.

Our customers know first-hand how important it is to maintain communication during a crisis situation. When a severe thunderstorm tore through New Jersey last year, bringing 85-mile-per-hour winds and knocking out power for more than 86,000 people, TigerConnect became a lifeline for Kennedy Health:

“In short, even though the computers weren’t working, TigerConnect was. The care teams were informed about what was happening in real time, both with the weather conditions and our patients. Even with limited electric power, I believe we were able to deliver safer, better-informed care during a crisis situation because of TigerConnect.”

— Patricia Madden, Corporate Director of Nursing at Kennedy Health

Hidden Functionality Gaps in EHR Mobile Apps
– Embedded messaging means communication stops anytime the EHR goes down
– IT and other teams must revert to phone calls, email or non-compliant SMS during outages (assuming they even have each other’s phone numbers)
– No broadcast messaging keeps employees in the dark about system/organization status

Clinical Communication Platform
+ Independent network keeps communication channel open during outages, weather events or malware attacks
+ Always-on communication channel enables IT and executives to strategize on a secure, uninterrupted channel
+ Broadcast messaging capability enables easy and frequent status updates to the entire organization or specific departments

Messaging Outside the Patient Record

Determining the best treatment for a patient isn’t always a clear-cut process. Sometimes, the discussions among colleagues include details that aren’t necessarily beneficial for a patient to read in their medical record or on a patient portal. Most EHRs require these conversations to take place within the patient record, forcing clinicians to be very measured in what they say and how they say it. Once again, here’s where CC&C solutions step in to assist.

CC&C’s allow staff to conduct detailed conversations about patients knowing that none of the details will become part of the patient’s record. This facilitates freer, more clinically honest communication without the fear that a comment may be taken out of context by a patient or loved one who may read it. Many of the more advanced CC&C solutions offer the flexibility of capturing and saving select responses back to the patient record through a custom EHR integration.

Hidden Functionality Gaps in EHR Chat App Limitation
– All conversations are captured in the patient record
– Limits freeform conversation
– No broadcast messaging – employees are kept out of the loop about system/organization status

Clinical Communication Platform
+ All conversations occur outside the patient record
+ Clinicians and non-clinicians can discuss multiple topics and cases on a single thread + A CC&C integration can allow select messages to be saved to the patient record

Healthcare Interoperability – Integration with nearly any EHR or 3rd-Party System

The massive consolidation happening in healthcare today is creating a mash-up of post-acute, ambulatory, skilled nursing, physician groups, and other organization types all using a mix of EHRs and other systems. This increasingly disconnected state heightens communication challenges for everyone involved and keeps staff mired in an endless cycle of logins, voicemail, pagers, answering services, fax machines, and whiteboards when coordinating care.

Meanwhile, many CC&C’s offer accessible APIs and developer-friendly code libraries that allow for seamless integration with the widest range of hospital systems. While the major EHRs struggle to integrate with nurse call, answering services, or scheduling systems, CC&C solutions excel at seamlessly merging the most relevant real-time patient data with human-to-human communication, minimizing trips to a workstation and streamlining care coordination.

Hidden Functionality Gaps in EHR Mobile Apps
– Proprietary, closed system complicates integrations with critical systems
– No pre-built integration for nurse call, answering service, or paging systems
– Difficulty integrating with 3rd-party scheduling systems

Clinical Communication Platform
+ Open API allows integration with most EHRs and hospital-related systems regardless of vendor type
+ Out-of-box integrations with popular systems like VoIP, answering service software systems
+ Centralized scheduling data from sophisticated solutions or even Excel files can be integrated into a single shift-based calendar

Additional CC&C value-adds include:

  • Role-based Scheduling – Integrate with any scheduling system to automate role assignments by shift with full calendar views up to four weeks out
  • Nurse Call System – Intelligently route nurse call messages to the appropriate staff member for faster, more accurate responses
  • VoIP / Video & Voice – Connect with existing phone systems and facilitate calls via the mobile app over the data network
  • Referral Management Engine – Health systems can link to affiliate physicians to capture patient referrals and keep those patients from defecting
  • Group Messaging – Create groups on the fly to improve collaboration and coordination
  • Message Forwarding – Easily add colleagues and experts to ongoing text conversations
  • Read Status (1:1/Group) – Know instantly when messages are sent, delivered, and read
  • Message Recall – Recall a message and attachments before or after the message has been read
  • File Attachments – Securely attach photos/files/dictation to messages; (Box, OneDrive, etc.)

To see the other four ways CC&C solutions, like TigerConnect, unlock value from the EHR. Download our eBook here.