A Deep Dive on the EMR Improvement Collaborative

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There’s a saying in my house: “The printer can smell your fear.” We say this because, without fail, if it’s late at night and you’re trying to get a print job done, you can expect that that horrible device will use every trick in the book to stop you in your tracks. The more urgent the print job, the stronger the resistance.

Now, maybe it’s my fault. It could be that I haven’t updated the firmware like I should have; maybe the Wi-Fi is on the fritz, or maybe I just plain forgot to buy more ink, paper, or toner. But when you’re sleep deprived and have procrastinated your taxes, it’s hard not to feel like that printer is simply full of malice.

Technology, in theory, stands as a shining beacon of hope. People say that with technology at our side, we’ll get to Mars, cure cancer, and end world hunger. While I hope that’s all true, when we talk about technology as a reality, it’s usually with tech support on the other end of the line.

In healthcare IT, the story is no different. We hear unending tales of the latest and greatest healthcare IT solutions, and yet often providers feel underwhelmed and oversold. Perhaps because it’s the cornerstone of an organization’s technology, the EMR often seems to carry more than its fair share of the productivity paradox.

I wrote recently about what that productivity paradox is, and you can read about it here. But to quickly recap, a productivity paradox occurs when new technology created to enhance efficiency actually detracts from the user’s ability to be productive.

KLAS has launched a new initiative, the EMR Improvement Collaborative. After hearing from many of our provider friends about the usability issues surrounding the EMR in general, we’ve thrown our hat into the ring to help organizations find solutions to this problem.

How KLAS Can Help

Digging into the usability of an EMR can, understandably, be a pretty touchy subject. After all, an organization expects the decision-makers who put the system in place to have done their homework. People have faced profound consequences by picking the “wrong system.”

Once you’re through all the hassle and expense of an install, it may seem crazy to intentionally go looking for problems with usability. If done improperly, it could feel like an organization is pitting their end-users against the IT staff. That’s dangerous territory, especially when communication between the two has historically been tenuous at best.

KLAS is in a unique position to dive into EMR usability. Having spent the last 20 years delicately balanced between providers and vendors, we understand how to bring disparate parties together. But the EMR Improvement Collaborative is more than just gathering feedback from end users for internal purposes. KLAS wants to identify a usability standard specific to each EMR so that organizations who have contracted with a particular vendor can anonymously measure that vendor’s progress against the marketplace.

How the EMR Improvement Collaborative Works

While my personal printer challenges are comparatively small, it’s hard to overstate how impactful the EMR productivity paradox is to healthcare organizations everywhere. Healthcare providers just don’t have the time to each individually work out solutions to this problem through trial and error.

The EMR Improvement Collaborative is built on the premise that we need to learn from each other. In order to do this, we need to measure our progress and learn when anyone progresses forward.

Here is how it works:

  • KLAS has worked with many healthcare organizations to build a common end-user satisfaction questionnaire. While every organization needs to tweak this questionnaire to fit their needs, the same common question set is sent out to users at many organizations.
  • The questionnaire is designed to provide insight on issues such as the amount/timing of training, individual efforts to optimize/personalize the EMR, the order-entry process, satisfaction with the EMR, desired changes, etc.
  • KLAS hosts this questionnaire so that findings can be benchmarked across organizations. After an organization distributes the survey, they get access to their findings in a personalized report.
  • This research and report then help to catalyze productive conversations. EMR vendors along with administrators, physicians, and IT staff come together with benchmarked data to discuss solutions.
  • Rinse and repeat: by measuring progress over time, organizations will see their improvements. Even more importantly, organizations who have improved over time are able to help all the rest of us similarly improve.

From there, KLAS continues collecting research on an annual basis and facilitating thoughtful conversations with an emphasis on benchmarking and improvement. Among additional events, webinars on successful organizations’ best practices and an annual conference will provide further opportunities for open collaboration and learning to help solve problems surrounding the EMR—usability, satisfaction, perception, productivity, efficiency, implementation, training, etc.

Today, 10 organizations have sent the questionnaire to their end users, with a return of over 3,500 questionnaires. The results have been incredibly exciting to learn from.

As you can see, the anonymity of organizations participating is very important, as no participating organization can claim they have overcome the paradox:

Chart Taylor

In essence, we hope to do for the healthcare industry what never happened for me and my printer: create a standard of benchmarking usability as well as share data that highlights the best practices for providers. And we will ultimately share those best practices across the industry and help organizations maximize the benefit they receive from their EMR.

If you would like to know more about how your organization can participate, contact Taylor Davis at EMRCollaborative@KLASresearch.com