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How Rural Providers Can Use EHRs to Improve the Patient Experience

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Today patients are not satisfied with the status quo of healthcare. It’s no longer enough for providers to treat them and send them on their way. With a greater financial stake in their healthcare and more freedom over how they shop, today’s patients expect the same convenience, accessibility, and deference from their local hospital that they get from their longtime bank or favorite shopping outlet.

Patients care about how their healthcare delivered and how providers communicate with them before, during, and after their hospital stay. This perception of care is a growing priority not just in urban communities. But also in rural ones, and is fast becoming a driving force for hospital revenue and reimbursements.

With more hospitals on the hook financially for improved patient satisfaction scores, patient experience has become more than just an industry buzzword. It’s vital for staying competitive in an era where finances are tight, reputation is harder to control, and large healthcare systems are merging-the only way many smaller community hospitals can keep their doors open.

Nearly a quarter of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reimbursements are now tied to patient satisfaction scores, and hospitals that deliver lackluster patient experiences risk not only financial penalties, but also being skewered by bad reviews on social media.

How Technology Can Level the Playing Field for Community Hospitals

What impacts the patient experience, and how can hospitals steer it in their favor? The Beryl Institute, a global group of healthcare practitioners dedicated to improving the patient experience, describes it as “the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization's culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care.”

Rural hospitals may lack the manpower, expertise, and amenities that larger urban or regional hospitals can provide. Technology can level the playing field for them in many ways, helping them deliver more coordinated, personalized care to a population of patients who might otherwise get overlooked.

Along with giving rural providers instant access to information so they can make faster, more informed decisions, electronic health records (EHRs) can help patients in these rural markets. EHRs allow patients to get the care they need sooner by broadening their access through telehealth services making it easier to transfer medical records to out-of-town facilities or specialists when necessary.

4 Ways EHRs Can Improve Patient Experience

While pricey updates and additions to fragmented EHR systems, frequent regulatory changes, and the scarcity of IT staff and fiber networks in rural areas have made hospitals in these communities slower to adopt digital patient records and share data, investing in healthcare technology can pay big dividends for rural hospitals. Streamlined, integrated EHRs can improve the patient experience in these markets by:

  1. Giving clinicians and patients access to the most complete, accurate records. Collecting clinical and financial data in a single platform ensures that patient information is automatically updated across departments, creating a holistic record that includes the latest lab results, medication lists and billing details, and prevents costly mistakes from duplicated or missing information.
  2. Minimizing errors and oversights that drive up costs. EHRs allow clinicians to chart from anywhere.  Not only does this improve the accuracy of their notes and coding and billing processes, but it also can cut down on unnecessary testing, misdiagnoses, and adverse outcomes. With charts completed upon discharge, patients are also able to take a copy home if they wish.
  3. Encouraging clinicians to interact with patients more. Intuitive, integrated EHRs can reduce administrative duties for clinicians, making their workflows more efficient. Patients can interact with physicians through EHR portals that allow them to communicate via secure, direct messaging.
  4. Helping hospitals coordinate care for high-risk patients. Rural providers can use data from EHRs to track population health trends and target educational outreach, including remote services for chronically ill patients, helping lower the cost and elevate their reputation as a community health leader.
EHR Solutions Geared to Support Patient Experience

We provide rural hospitals with an  Enterprise EHR that not only delivers accurate, timely documentation and integrates clinical and financial data, but also enhances the patient experience with a seamless approach to facilitating referrals and transfer of patients between care settings. We leverage patient and consumer data through condition management outreach, and population trends to give hospitals a holistic look at their community and patient base.

Our solutions are designed with clinician input to complement staff capabilities and workflow and are augmented by YourCare®, a suite of consumer engagement and continuity of care solutions, that helps hospitals of any size expand their brand and consumer reach while helping to keep your patients within your network .


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