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Effectively managed EHRs are the foundation of a strong healthcare transformation strategy, according to HIMSS Market Insight research.

Healthcare consumers live in an on-demand world and expect access to their healthcare data. To meet these expectations, healthcare organizations are working to modernize electronic health records (EHRs).

A HIMSS Market Insights survey conducted in February 2022 revealed that 99% of respondents believe EHR platforms are very or extremely essential to achieving digital transformation.1

Investments in EHRs across multiple platforms have been steadily rising during the past 20 years. Now the focus is on modernization and consolidation.

In the last 12 months, survey respondents reported working on EHR performance improvements (60%), adding EHR solutions vendors (41%) and EHR consolidation of platforms (30%). What’s more, organizations with four or more EHR platforms (59%) are more likely to have consolidated their platforms in the last 12 months.

Develop a strategy to maximize investment

Thinking proactively about the management of EHRs will be critical to achieving digital transformation, according to Mike Jackman, Chief Operating Officer, Health Group, Leidos.

“Healthcare organizations need to ensure they have the right people, processes, and training in place to support the technology,” he explained. “Personnel skilled in the platform, retention strategies to keep this knowledge within the organization, proper change management protocols, and adherence to ITIL-based processes around the maintenance of these platforms are essential.”

Support EHR consolidation during M&A transitions

Mergers and acquisitions designed to achieve cost savings and economies of scale will continue to drive the EHR consolidation trend.

The recent merger between Advocate Aurora Health and Atrium Health created one of the nation’s largest nonprofit health systems, with $27 billion in combined revenues and 67 hospitals across six states.2 Additionally, large and small integrated delivery networks continue to acquire privately owned practices.

“These mergers are forcing EHR adoption by the acquired,” Jackman said. “Healthcare organizations are drafting M&A playbooks that support immediate implementation to capitalize on the cost savings associated with system consolidation and integration of patient populations.”

Naturally, these migrations are not without pain points for the acquired.

“Organizations must take care to ensure that the workflow, cultural, and technological gaps are accounted for in their EHR adoption and training strategies,” he added.

Optimize EHRs for the end users

Healthcare organizations will also need to shift their focus from simply maintaining EHR technology to leveraging that technology to improve services for healthcare consumers and providers.

“Vendors are responding swiftly to the changing ecosystem and organizational adoption of new capabilities,” explained Jackman. “Quarterly or annual upgrades remain a key strategy for keeping abreast of new enhancements. Regular upgrades or updates are also important to maintain a secure environment.”

Jackman recommends defining a cadence of daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance activities for supporting this new breed of EHRs.

“We have incorporated regular patches, upgrades, and enhancements into a unified schedule that has resulted in a system that produces fewer incidents than before,” he shared. 

The end result? Increased capacity across teams to focus on value-added projects and initiatives that drive outcomes as opposed to incidents, putting greater utility into the hands of the provider.

Learn more about this research and EHR modernization.

References

  1. HIMSS Market Insights. February 2022. EHRr Modernization: Hospitals/Health Systems.
  2. Liss, S. May 11, 2022. Advocate Aurora, Atrium Health to merge, creating $27B system. Healthcare Dive. https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/advocate-aurora-atrium-health-merger/623580/
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