The Section of General Pediatrics at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, located in Philadelphia, PA, encountered several challenges during its transition from paper to an electronic health record (EHR) system, as well as the need to implement significant cultural and workflow changes. St. Christopher’s contracted with PA REACH East to receive the support they needed to succeed.
For example, staff found the reporting functionality within the EHR system confusing and difficult to use. In response, PA REACH East helped the practice customize the reporting structure within the system to better meet the needs of the staff while satisfying the reporting requirements for MU measures.
Staff also found that the existing EHR workflow development, structured around the need to capture MU measures, was cumbersome. In response, St. Christopher’s created a clinical champion team that continually evaluated the MU measures versus the data that was being captured to ensure that the practice was staying on track.
Providers also expressed a concern that they would not be able to capture all of the patient information required to meet the MU measures in the time alotted for a regular office visit. St. Christopher’s minimized this fear by promoting MU as a team effort, and emphasizing that the entire clinical support staff plays a part in data capture.
All of the providers at the practice met Stage 1 Meaningful Use (MU) within the first year of EHR Go-Live.
Although the road to MU seemed bumpy at times, the practice has achieved many positive outcomes from “meaningfully using” its EHR system.
According to General Pediatrics Director of Operations Vanessa Arce, “Within the first six months of implementing our EHR we have been able to reduce wait times by 20 percent, which translates to 15 minutes per patient.” Arce also reported that in the past year the time efficiency of the patient experience has been reduced by 30 minutes, a 30 percent reduction. Also, after implementing patient-tracking in the system to track daily clinic flow, the practice used an automated follow-up process to reduce its “no-show” rates from 35 percent to 21 percent in less than 9 months.
When asked to share some lessons learned throughout the transition, Arce stressed that communication and staff involvement were critical to a successful implementation.
“Working with a clinical champion team is the best approach,” said Arce. She shared that it takes time and effort to gain buy-in from providers and more seasoned staff, but emphaized that promotion within the practice is crucial for the implementation of any new project.
“Our team worked hard to consistently meet all of the deliverables prior to go-live. We still update our staff weekly as to changes, additions, upgrades, etc., and we continue to meet and look at opportunities to make our practice more efficient within the EHR.”