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Using your medical practice’s EHR data for analytics

By Derek Kosiorek, CPEHR, CPHIT
April 27, 2017
Body of Knowledge Domain(s): Operations Management, Patient-Centered Care

Your EHR system wasn’t built for data analytics. Believe me, I know the counter-intuitive nature of that statement, but it’s true. Your EHR was built as an information repository and a way to electronically store your data.

In the rush to get your business and make it palatable to your more paper-reliant physicians, it was designed to emulate your paper records – some even had chart-like “tabs” on the side of the screen. It was not designed to interpret, aggregate or organize the valuable information contained within it.

For many practices, reports produced by the EHR were either pre-installed with the product or configured by the vendor during implementation. To these groups, the ability to generate new analytics walks out the door with the product implementation team. 

In an April 24 MGMA Stat poll, respondents were relatively split on how much they analyze their EHR data: 31% said that they use all their EHR analytic capabilities, while 22% said they use some of the analytic capabilities. Another 31% said they use some combination of their EHR analytic capabilities and an external vendor, while 11% say they don’t analyze their EHR data at all.

As more healthcare organizations move to data-driven, value-based care, the ability to leverage the information collected in an EHR becomes vital to the very sustainability of a medical practice. Yet, many practices do not have the resources to mine the data and organize it in ways to create new insights from the clinical, administrative and financial information being captured daily.

Even if your practice has the staff with the knowledge and time to create reports, the system often requires an add-on product sold by the vendor or an outside product or service to analyze your data.

But the EHR/analytics world is improving in exciting ways and will soon live up to the promise that brought us into the electronic age. Soon, systems will aggregate the data available from multiple settings, such as emergency department, outpatient and nursing home facilities. It will inform the caregiver about implications brought by regional data for similar patients, the level of interest and ability to engage in her/his own care and latest clinical trials. 

I often say that clinical providers do not dislike EHRs as a concept – they dislike the EHRs they have been given. Today, it is more difficult to get the job done with the tool than it is without it. But data analytics have the power to change all that.

Derek Kosiorek, CPEHR, CPHIT, principal consultant, Health Care Consulting Group, MGMA

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