Once you’ve gotten your clinic up and running on your new EHR system, you’re likely going to be focusing on one patient at a time. However, once you get more familiar with the technology you’ll be ready for the next step: managing large groups of patients using your EHR.
EHRs can help clinics and hospitals manage care for all kinds of groups. This helps you and your staff track patient information in a timely manager, coordinate care, identify patients who need a follow-up or yearly visit, and assign patients who fit criteria to specific risk groups, enabling them to be watched more carefully. You can also use the data in patient groups to analyze your care across these groups, analyze treatment outcomes, and adjust your treatment if needed.
What kind of groups are we talking about here? How about all the patients you care for who have diabetes? Hypertension? Cancer? Asthma? Suffered a stroke? Depression?
You could also create patient groups based on conditions, such as allergies, addictions, hormone disorders, recurring infections, autoimmune disorders, or hormone disorders.
There are literally hundreds of different groups you could sort your patients into. However, the sorting process isn’t easy. Everything depends on the kind of data you enter, and what you request your EHR to look for. So, what do you need to do?
1. Identify the Group
You need to start by identifying which groups you want to track within your clinic, and why. We’ve already listed several ideas above to help get you started.
2. Identify Information
Now you need to tell the EHR exactly what it needs to look for in order to sort these patients into the correct groups. This could be a specific test, like a mammogram, or a specific exam, like prenatal.
Make sure you include any quality measures you’ll need to report for CMS, PQRI, or other programs.
3. Include Your Vendor
Your vendor will be of great help when you start sorting patients into groups. Make sure your vendor has included all the fields you need, and make sure you use them for the resource they are.
4. Educate Your Staff
It’s important to tell everyone on your staff that you’re tracking certain groups, and explain the type of information that’s needed for the tracking. Some staff members might feel grumpy about entering information they don’t feel is necessary. However, if they know in advance that your clinic is sorting these patients into groups, they’ll be far less likely to skip the important data entry step.
Many vendors recommend that clinics decide to sort patients into groups before GoLive. The reason is because starting out with the right data at the beginning is often much easier than changing habits later on down the road. If you’re in the “research” stage of EHR right now, then take time to figure out how you’d like to sort your own patients down the road. If you decide that sorting them into groups is worthwhile (and it very often is) then you can set up your vendor relationship and training with this in mind.