Stay Compliant and Improve Patient Care with an Informatics Program
Technology is perhaps both the most significant opportunity and one of the greatest challenges facing community hospitals today. Electronic Health Record (EHR) platforms require consistent updates and upkeep and risk becoming a security threat. Patient data is stored on multiple platforms that may not be compatible with each other. Additionally, government regulations are changing at a rapid pace, making it difficult to stay up to date—particularly for community hospitals with limited resources.
Patient care technology continues to evolve, changing workflows for tomorrow’s growth. But growth in technology requires continuous oversight in order to ensure security, system compatibility and compliance with federal regulations. Informatics is one key resource to help your organization maintain and optimize the functionalities within your EHR.
Key Benefits of a Clinical Informatics Program
- Compliance and cost reduction: Avoid legal and regulatory penalties.
- Performance: Improve EHR functionality and efficiency.
- Productivity: Build optimal clinical workflows.
- Patient care: Enhance patient satisfaction and care.
- Quality: Improve clinical outcomes.
Optimize your EHR: EHRs tend to be a significant expense for all hospitals regardless of size, so money spent to maintain these platforms is money well spent. A skilled informatics team will add efficiency, reduce the risk of human error, and improve the overall patient experience. Identifying a staff member to manage informatics also helps improve accountability and opens the lines of communication with the vendor or external informatics team.
For community hospitals looking to implement an informatics program, here are four helpful tips for getting started:
- Identify how the informatics role will drive your organizational goals: The informatics position is critical to building and maintaining optimal functionality and integration within the EHR, but for some facilities, adding another FTE in an informatics position can be challenging. At CHC we work with the facility to develop this role to meet their specific needs. The process may involve combining roles and responsibilities or bringing in a consultant for projects that exceed the facility skill levels.
- Form internal and external advisory groups: Never underestimate the power of communication. Creating an advisory group for informatics-related issues can help community hospitals ensure compliance. By raising concerns with each other, hospitals can get advice from and share solutions with other facilities who may be struggling with the same issues.
- Maintain the Electronic Health Record system: The hospital EHR is a significant expense but also a valuable resource. On-going training for informatics and all end users should be part of your facility’s ongoing strategy to optimize and manage this investment for the benefit of their patients. A skilled informaticist will add efficiency, reduce the risk of human error, and improve the overall patient experience.
- Be proactive with vendors and regulatory agencies: As regulations change, informatics must work with the regulatory bodies and EHR vendors to identify how changes will impact the data capture. Informatics must also validate the required process changes. It’s key to ensure workflows are in place to capture the appropriate data and avoid any negative impacts down the road.
It’s no surprise that technology is here to stay. A community hospital’s success going forward will depend on how effectively it can embrace the need for technology advances, understand and keep track of regulatory rules, and put the right staff in place to manage these complexities. Amid these challenging times, it can be helpful to take advantage of external resources like the CHC Clinical Informatics Division assists our clients to stay compliant, reduce costs, and continue to deliver excellent patient care.
CHC’s Clinical Informatics Division helps hospitals to develop comprehensive programs that support inpatient, emergency and ambulatory care settings, monitor and analyze regulations, provide guidance, and escalate concerns, as needed.
CHC’s Clinical Informatics Advisory Group includes informatics teams from our owned and managed facilities providing support to nearly 20 hospitals regarding rules and regulations, workflow best practices, reporting, and education for clinical and other staff assigned to the informatics program.
Read about CHC Clinical Informatics Services