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Tips for smoothing electronic barriers behind the scenes.
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Increasingly more consumer-driven, U.S. healthcare providers are jostling for position amidst competitive pressures, value-based care demands and facility consolidations. Nearly half of all health IT leaders (42%) rated updating technology to improve the patient experience as their top objective this year, according to the 2019 Health IT Industry Outlook report.
Yet in the latter half of the year, they along with many healthcare providers, are still facing significant barriers to cross-continuum operational efficiency.
Finding the balance between an elevated patient experience and competitive operations is daunting. The following are three considerations for IT staffing support’s role in achieving these dual objectives.
When EHR end-user support is disjointed — spread thin across overburdened internal IT staff — the process to resolve issues slows down. Mounting tickets bog down the IT department, while unresolved issues ultimately cause arduous user workarounds that hinder direct patient care and delay informed clinical care decision making.
Without a strategic IT support staffing model underpinned by defined SLAs, tickets may fall through the cracks, requiring continued escalation, which then snowballs staffing costs to fully document, investigate and finally resolve an end-user issue.
Strapped for qualified HIT resources, many hospitals are turning to dedicated third-party-managed services support to relieve internal staff for more mission-critical IT projects. This increases productivity for both the clinical and financial systems’ end users while safeguarding operational continuity.
According to a BMJ Open study, positive patient experiences are closely linked to patient—health professional interactions and logistics of hospital processes.
Often backed by managed services support, a flexible, strategic IT staffing plan lowers both clinician and internal IT teams’ EHR fatigue and burnout. This approach frees up internal staff’s dedicated focus to tackle inefficiencies in direct patient-facing logistics. Proper workflow in areas like onboarding and patient consent processes won’t fall through the cracks — in turn, avoiding procedure, testing and insurance claims delays. This type of IT staffing solution also ensures around-the-clock clinical EHR support.
With faster IT issue resolution, clinicians gain more valued time back to focus on the patient and clinical decision-making that inspired them to first enter the healthcare field. They can rest assured they have the complete picture to make informed care decisions, avoiding issues like blocked EHR free note access which can lead to medication errors.
As health systems acquire new facilities, disparities in IT systems and inefficient workflows can cause clinical care confusion, treatment delays and operational redundancies. The IT support team should be instrumental in standardizing IT protocols across the organization — from admission or ED workflow to referrals, authorizations and order sets.
Health IT leaders must create holistic rollout plans, considering IT staffing support to unify facilities onto the same EHR system and version and determine how to best support, archive, migrate and data decommission legacy systems.
With systemwide governance, healthcare leaders should look at the EHR from an enterprise perspective, not a regional level. Long-term, efficient system sustainability should always be a goal set by IT.
Often overlooked, a hospital’s strained IT support can perpetuate poor patient experiences and inefficient workflow. To pragmatically reduce staffing spend, decrease EHR burnout and maximize IT system utilization, healthcare providers are now relying on new strategic IT support models that modernize the outdated managed services approach.
Joncé Smith is the vice president of revenue cycle management of Stoltenberg Consulting.
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