Most hospitals face similar challenges as they upgrade their paper-based record systems to electronic medical records (EMRs), and those challenges tend to center around managing change within the organization as the ways and means that information is recorded evolves. Hospitals move very fast, and those that get used to the hectic pace of things aren’t very fond of change as it has the potential to initially create chaos, even if there is a promise of increased simplicity, usability, and accuracy.
Within the Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management section of the Baldrige criteria, applicants are asked how they make needed data and information available to the workforce, suppliers, partners, collaborators, and customers, as appropriate. To address the reluctance that many healthcare organizations have over switching to an electronic system, some EMR vendors have resorted to very interesting tactics in order to woo these potential customers.
Athenahealth is a very popular EMR and data management platform used by hospitals, which has recently made the news for the purchase of Epocrates, a startup whose mobile application provides drug reference advice to healthcare providers. Epocrates pioneered the development of what has been widely recognized as the most popular point-of-care medical application among U.S. physicians, providing vast swaths of data regarding pharmaceutical usage and interaction at the touch of a finger. Together, these two giants will manage data and information for hospitals and healthcare providers like never before. Their offerings will include managing follow-up appointment scheduling, care-coordination, chart filing, advanced workflows, and a greatly expanded provider network. Increased accuracy, decreased turn-around times, excellent security measures, and increased availability of information to network providers has resulted in a truly monumental breakthrough in the way hospitals do business.
“The focus of an organization’s knowledge management is on the knowledge that people need to do their work, improve processes and health care services, and develop innovative solutions that add value for the patient, the stakeholder, and the organization.” – 2012 Baldrige Heath Care Criteria, p 41.
So, aside from word-of-mouth, how does Athenahealth plan to get more healthcare providers involved? One way is to offer their services with zero up-front costs (they take a percentage of a practice’s revenue, so they succeed when their customers do well.) The second is the sharing of best practices in a cloud network, so all participants can explore up-to-date performance averages of other Athenahealth clients. The platform is called PracticeVitals, and displays all sorts of valuable information, customizable to the practice specialty, like the average No-Show rate in a Cardiology office. Or the amount of time a claim is waiting in Accounts Receivable at an Internal Medicine practice. This feature is not only a convenient way to share the results seen by practitioners that have implemented Athenahealth tools, but it’s also refreshingly honest advertising in the format of customizable, live-results case studies.
When implementing initiatives to improve the management of information, knowledge, and information technology, the underlying target is always to improve organization efficiency and effectiveness, and to stimulate innovation. When employees have more time to focus on patient care and can worry less about filing paperwork, the quality of care and therefore patient satisfaction will improve.
Regardless of technological capability, the human and process aspects that are affected by change must still be managed. In part II of this piece, we’ll discuss the application of data management tools like EMR, including the planning, process design, and controls necessary for a successful implementation. Stay tuned for more!
For more articles like this one, check out:
- Simulated Design of Experiments to Solve Difficult Problems
- Henry Ford Health System’s Baldrige Journey
- How Well Do You Leverage Metrics?
Editors note: Yesterday marked one year since Juran took over at Baldrige.com. I’d like to offer a huge THANK YOU to all our readers, commenters, and contributors who have helped us along the way! Keep reading, keep spreading the good word about Baldrige, and keep improving. -Michelle