A recent study on Inpatient Electronic Health Record (EHR) Maintenance in the American Journal of Managed Care captured the scale and scope of maintaining an EHR system during the course of six years at a 21-hospital health system in Northern California.  What the researchers found may be surprising to some, but it is a story we often hear from our clients.  The commitment of people, time and financial resources to maintain a modern EHR is substantial, pervasive, and can be overwhelming to many health systems. 

Soon after going live, many health systems find they’re ill-prepared to handle the around-the-clock support, maintenance and IT requests related to their enterprise EHR.  The learning curves and added pressure can impact your IT teams, leading to dissatisfaction, employee turnover, increased expenses, and unhappy end users.

Accordingly, the research found that 5,551 unique changes were made to the EHR, with a median of 72 changes per month, affecting 135 EHR functions.  That’s 2.5 significant EHR changes per day!  The changes arose from 151 unique user roles across the enterprise including nurses, physicians, and other clinical staff. The clinical areas most targeted by changes included the surgical and emergency departments.

There’s no doubt enterprise EHR systems have greatly extended their reach to increasingly broader populations of hospital staff, as well as to patients.  Modern EHR support requirements add complexity and increased burden to the workload historically addressed by a traditional IT help desk and application support teams.  With all the support and maintenance required, what I like to call the “daily care and feeding”, the labor resourcing challenges can be daunting.  There is often little time left for your team to optimize the system, analyze data and extract the return on your sizeable EHR investment.

In this spirit, I challenge you to conduct an honest assessment of how well-equipped your help desk and application support teams are to simultaneously handle EHR maintenance, optimization, and upgrades while resolving a wide spectrum of support cases from diverse users ranging from your hospital clinical and administrative staff to your patients.  HCTec is adept at partnering with our clients to create custom solutions to solve these challenges.  The right approach for some may be to augment in-house staff on either a contingent or permanent basis with our consultants who possess highly specialized EHR knowledge.  Other organizations may chose to leverage our skilled agents and analysts working in our two 24/7 U.S.-based contact centers.  And in other instances, a hybrid approach works best.

Explore our EHR support best practices in our informational guide, and let’s connect at HIMSS19 in Orlando next week to find out what strategy can work best for your organization.