EHR Results Verification
When assessing all of the tools a provider has at his or her disposal to aid in interacting with their patients, it would seem as if the EHR is one of the most powerful and information rich tools available. In fact, one of the early goals of the EHR was that, within in a matter of seconds, the provider would be able to sign off on test results, document the patient’s visit and deliver results to the patient. However, is this goal actually being achieved?
Even with the current functionality of the EHR and having information available to the provider, providers and staff might not always be communicating with the patient as often as hoped. Perhaps they do not have time or the training on how to best utilize it for patient communication.
Allscripts Touchworks EHR has strong results verification workflows that fulfill the goal of verifying a result and communicating those results to the patient.
Allscripts recommends 3 standard workflows for EHR Results Verification
- QVerify: Verify results that do not require any follow up, by simply clicking QVerify for one more results; the user can easily move to the next patient.
- Verify results and add an annotation: Annotations can be added by entering comments into the Annotations to Apply to All Results Being Verified dialog box and clicking Verify or Verify and Next Patient.
- Verify a result that requires staff communication: Providers can generate a chart note and/or a patient letter by selecting a communication method to their staff. These options include Call Patient with Results, Schedule Results Follow Up, or Mail Results to Patient. Additionally, the provider can communicate to the staff within the task created or on the note generated.
It should be recognized that the provider has several decisions to make when verifying results. These decisions can range from confirming he or she is in fact the proper person to be viewing and verifying them, are they in fact valid results, should any further annotations or actions be taken given the findings, and how and to whom should the results be communicated.
Streamlining and improving the results communication process often happens in the optimization phase of an EHR lifecycle. Many organizations choose to enlist the help of a consulting group to perform the optimization project. Consulting groups working directly with providers must ensure proper use of the EHR and enable the practices to receive all the benefits from Allscripts Touchworks. It is imperative consultants work with providers and staff to ensure they are well versed in the EHR’s functionality allowing them to communicate results to their patients.
Many hope the use of a patient portal will solve the communication challenges when considering this issue- this is unfortunately false. Although Meaningful Use (MU) Stage 2 requirements are accelerating patient portal adoption at an increasing rate, the latest KLAS report, entitled “Patient Portals 2013: On Track for Meaningful Use?” confirms patient portals are a “must-have” technology for doctors and hospitals, according to a survey of more than 200 providers. Yet, the respondents indicated most of these portals do not yet satisfy their needs in areas such as patient engagement. Just making a portal available to patients will not ensure they will use it.
The most important outcome of these workflows is that patients receive the information about their results in a timely and clear manner. Through implementing a consistent workflow using the EHR to ‘do the work’ providers will begin to trust the process and their patients will be satisfied with the increased communication.