Kristy Boldt

Urgent Care Centers: 5 Signs it’s Time to Switch your EHR

October 30, 2019

EHR 5 Minute Read

This article first appeared on the Urgent Care Association (UCA) Blog.

It’s hard to imagine a world without urgent care centers. Today, they are the saving grace for many patients in a time when Emergency Departments are overcrowded and expensive, and the shortage of primary care physicians means a long wait time just to get an appointment.

Initially, urgent care centers began in the 1970s out of a need for walk-in clinics, and only provided very basic care for smaller issues including flu and aches.

Fast-forward to today and urgent care centers have been growing at breakneck speed. (Recent estimates indicate there are currently upwards of 10,000 in the U.S.) However, much has changed and evolved since those earlier days. For example, many now treat more complex conditions like burns, sprains, strains, and cuts. Some now also treat higher acuity patients, while others may provide x-rays, CT scans, pharmacy, occupational health, nutrition services, or other ancillary offerings.

As urgent care centers continue to evolve, so has the information system technology needed to support them – especially when it relates to Electronic Health Records (EHRs). EHR adoption has already hit critical mass thanks to the HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act. However, some urgent care centers are finding that the EHR system that worked so well for them when they started hasn’t kept up or may not be a good fit anymore. If this sounds familiar, here are some signs it may be time to switch:

1. You are frustrated with the EHR system’s performance. There are many reasons a system could perform under par. Some of them include:

  • Regular error messages
  • Slow processing
  • High sensitivity to keystrokes
  • Inability to scale with growth
  • Lack of enhancements or advancements
  • Excessive downtime
  • Integration issues
  • Lack of important features or certification
  • Incomplete system that doesn’t include billing, registration or other key applications
  • Doesn’t have all of the benefits of a best-of-breed system

It is NOT the norm for one or more of the above issues to continue to hamper your urgent care center and cause disruption in your ability to treat patients. According to Software Advice’s buyers trend report, the top reason practices replace their EHR is because it is “cumbersome or faulty”.

2. The system is difficult to learn and use. An EHR is useless if it’s too hard to learn and use. According to HIMSS, EHR usability all comes down to effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction.

Some examples of common usability issues and complaints include:

  • Too many clicks and popups
  • Steep learning curve
  • Alerts that are either too frequent, absent, or incorrect
  • Difficult data entry that doesn’t allow for modifications
  • Available information isn’t accessible or stored in a logical location
  • The visual display is confusing and causing potential patient safety issues

Since an EHRs usability (or lack thereof) can impact productivity, patient safety, clinician satisfaction, burnout and profitability, many experts believe it is the single most important thing to look for when evaluating a new EHR. In fact, usability is so important that for the 2015 Edition, ONC now requires EHR vendors to submit a usability study to the Certified Health IT Product List (CHPL).

3. The EHR is not tailored to your population. The most common conditions treated in urgent care centers according the Urgent Care Association are fevers, sprains and strains, upper respiratory infections, lacerations, contusions and back pain. However, some centers also treat fractures, provide IVs, and offer onsite X-ray, laboratory and phlebotomy services. The EHR should be tailored specifically to your urgent care’s population in order to bring the greatest efficiencies and productivity for you and your staff. This includes pre-built templates, a system built around your own workflows (and incorporating best practices), tailored alerts and preferences, interfaces to medical equipment utilized, and other forms and letters specific to your center (workers compensation, sports physicals, etc.).

4. You’re not getting the support you need. Unfortunately, most of us probably have a ‘good’ story to tell about a poor customer support experience –whether it was a complete lack of responsiveness, or having to wait days, weeks or even months (gasp!) for a resolution.

When that company is your EHR vendor, not only is it frustrating and time-consuming, but it can also negatively impact you and your urgent care center in terms of productivity, poor patient experience and profits.

According to a recent Customer Experience Impact Report, a negative customer experience is the reason 86% of consumers quit doing business with a company. If you are experiencing any of the following on a regular basis, it’s time to consider switching:

  • You’re not able to reach a support person because of limited support hours
  • You have to wait longer than 20 minutes for someone to answer the phone
  • The turnaround time for requests takes days, weeks or months
  • You are having difficulty locating resources for troubleshooting issues or connecting with a member of the support team
  • You feel support hasn’t paid attention to your needs
  • You are consistently handed off from one support person to another with no resolution

5. You aren’t achieving goals due to poor analytics and reporting. Powerful analytics and a robust financial back-end are a necessity for all healthcare organizations. You should be able to pull insightful and detailed reports from your system from ALL of the data collected, and without much fuss or time. If your system begrudgingly pulls reports and has become an obstacle to insight, then it’s time to take a fresh look at what financial and reporting capabilities are available versus what your current system is limited to.

The wrong EHR can waste time, decrease revenue, and frustrate staff and patients alike. Although switching to a new EHR can be a big undertaking, if you’re experiencing one or more of the above challenges, the cost of staying status quo may be more than the investment to change. If your EHR is blocking your path to growth, then consider this your sign that it’s time for a change.

Interested in seeing what Wellsoft Urgent Care EHR can do for you? Learn more and schedule a personalized demo.

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