Helping Physician Practices Connect for Success with EHR Usability Support
By Ryan Sommers, PMP - Senior Director, Epic Practice
Oct 12, 2021
Seven out of 10 physicians have used the same electronic health record (EHR) for more than five years, a Medical Economics survey found. Yet one-third of physicians still struggle with EHR usability: 38% want a system that is easier to use, and 33% want customization options.
What’s holding physician practices back from optimizing their EHR? Most independent and small group practices either do not have the personnel or financial resources to invest in upgrades that could help physicians more effectively leverage the EHR.
Epic EHR is trying to change that.
Epic’s Community Connect program enables large healthcare systems with Epic EHRs to “share” their systems with independent and small-group practices. Community Connect aims to foster symbiotic relationships between practices and health systems where practices gain access to advanced EHR features while larger “host” systems gain increased referrals and revenue.
Unfortunately, most physicians participating in Community Connect say they receive “bare bones” support from Epic in implementing their system, according to KLAS’ 2020 report. They also complain that the level of training and ongoing service and assistance they receive from their host organizations is less than they expect or desire. As a result, Community Connect physicians report much less satisfaction with their Epic experience than those who buy direct from Epic, according to the KLAS report.
Some health systems partner with a consultant to help mitigate these issues. In our experience, the right consultant will do four things to maximize the success of participation in Community Connect.
No. 1: They’ll talk things through.
The best Epic/EHR consultants will take the time to sit down with the host organization to discuss their goals for and the level of EHR management and flexibility they can provide physician practice recipients. With respect to implementation, the right consultant company will provide fully dedicated resources and “white glove service” from kickoff to go-live and beyond. These consultants keep each side’s interests and impacts in mind, such as by minimizing time commitment and disruption to the daily operations of both the host and recipient.
No. 2: They’ll provide comprehensive training.
An expert consultant will provide sufficient hands-on training to position organizations for a positive experience during go-live and beyond. The KLAS Arch Collaborative cites training as the No. 1 predictor of physician EHR satisfaction. Training isn’t just a one-day class or a set of videos. High-quality training consists of giving staff direct experience and assistance in getting oriented to the system in ways directly related to their daily work.
No. 3: They’ll deliver ongoing customer and technical support.
Transitioning to Epic from another EHR, especially for small and legacy systems, often comes with a steep learning curve. A reputable, expert consultant will provide system personalization assistance and deliver prompt, continuing support as questions arise. Ensuring that staff become proficient and efficient as quickly as possible is crucial to the host-recipient relationship and its success.
No. 4: They’ll offer transparent pricing.
The right consultant will provide clear, easy-to-understand pricing for every aspect of Epic implementation and support, including software licensing, labor, and training. This is especially valuable when hosts and their recipients are entering into Community Connect for the first time. Unforeseen circumstances can lead to higher-than-expected costs.
Programs like Epic’s Community Connect can bolster the competitive success of both large health systems and small medical practices. But the failure to provide comprehensive training, efficient implementation, and ongoing assistance increase the odds of a broken relationship.
That’s something no healthcare provider, large or small, can afford.
By selecting the right EHR implementation partner, healthcare organizations can most effectively optimize their EHR investment and achieve sustainable gains in performance.
Considering the move to Community Connect? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more tips on ways to ease the transition.
Ryan Sommers, PMP, is senior director, healthcare division—Epic practice for Healthcare Triangle.