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Overcome EHR Challenges to Improve Patient Care, Office Efficiency :

September 15, 2017

Editor's note: The 2017 AAP National Conference & Exhibition will take place from Sept. 16-19 in Chicago.

When it comes to electronic health records (EHRs), practice makes perfect, said Susan Kressly, MD, FAAP.

“The EHR is a tool, and like every other tool we have in medicine (an otoscope, a stethoscope, a bedside ultrasound), the more practice you have and time you take in using the tool, the more it becomes something that you are familiar with and adds value to the care of your patients,” said Dr. Kressly, a member of the AAP Council on Clinical Information Technology and Section on Administration and Practice Management.

Dr. Kressly will discuss how pediatricians can use their EHRs to improve practice efficiency, patient care and payments during a session titled “Your EHR: Putting It to Work for You, Not the Other Way Around (F3132)” from 3:00-3:45 pm Monday in McCormick Place West, W180.

Nearly 90% of office-based physicians had adopted EHRs as of 2015, according to the federal Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. Whether used in a large organization or solo practice, there are obstacles to overcome, Dr. Kressly acknowledged.

“Some of the challenges in larger organizations stem from the fact that the pediatrician has no voice in what (EHR) is chosen,” she said. “It's chosen to support the adult medical side of the organization, and the pediatricians are stuck trying to fit kids’ needs into an adult-based EHR.”

When pediatricians do have a choice, they aren’t sure what to look for to make sure an EHR meets their needs.

Time also is a huge challenge, said Dr. Kressly, founder and president of Kressly Pediatrics, PC in Warrington, Pa.

Many practices think they can save time by having someone else set up the system.

“However, if you don't know how it is set up, you can't use it effectively,” she said. “Not only do pediatricians need to spend the time to learn how their EHR works, but it has to be continuous learning. There will absolutely be upgrades, new features, bug fixes as an ongoing process.”

Despite these hurdles, Dr. Kressly said pediatricians can take steps to use their EHR effectively and efficiently and boost their bottom line.

“Putting in the time upfront pays you in every office visit,” she said.

She suggests customizing templates and having office staff and patients do some of the data entry work. “There are creative ways to do that and make your visits less onerous, including robust patient engagement through patient portals,” she said.

Use of EHRs also can lead to higher payments, pay-for-performance bonuses and better contracts, she added.

Patient care is yet another area that can benefit from EHR data.

“Pediatricians have to understand that the real power of the EHR is not in the documentation of what happens in a visit,” Dr. Kressly said. “It's managing your population as a whole and identifying those patients who are due/overdue for services (such as ADHD rechecks, well visits, immunizations), having a way to identify them, reach out to them and recall them to get them in for appropriate care.”

Follow Dr. Kressly on Twitter @kiddrsue.

For more coverage of the AAP National Conference & Exhibition visit and follow AAPNews on Twitter and Facebook.

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