In the digital age of healthcare, electronic health record (EHR) systems have become the cornerstone of nearly all clinical and administrative operations. But while your EHR is intended to streamline and simplify workflows, common oversights in the design and management of a health information technology (HIT) network can lead to a user experience that’s frustrating and inefficient.

In this blog post, we outline six steps your federally qualified health center (FQHC) can take to create a better EHR user experience for medical staff. By following these recommended best practices, your FQHC can seamlessly integrate patient information, medical histories, treatment plans, and diagnostic results into a comprehensive and easily accessible platform.

6 Steps to Improve Your Medical Staff’s EHR User Experience

Step 1: Optimize Infrastructure for Scalability and Performance

Whether your EHR is hosted externally or managed by an internal IT team, the first step is ensuring that your EHR software runs on up-to-date servers and infrastructure. When assessing your FQHC’s IT infrastructure, keep in mind that meeting the bare-minimum requirements listed in a vendor’s technical document is probably not enough to deliver peak performance (they’re called minimum requirements for a reason).

Instead, consider the broader technical ecosystem and evaluate whether your current servers and infrastructure will create any bottlenecks. Collaborate closely with your EHR vendor and internal IT team to assess not only the hardware, but also your network and infrastructure setup. If you need additional expertise, you can also call in an outside expert – like the team at MyConnectSolutions – to help you implement a design that’s scalable enough to accommodate growing patient data and usage demands over time. This proactive approach will help you avoid performance problems and deliver a seamless experience.

Looking for ways to build a best-in-class infrastructure? Read the MyConnectSolutions white paper on outlining HIT Best Practices for Federally Qualified Health Centers.

Step 2: Prioritize EHR Traffic for Seamless Performance

Most FQHCs rely on their network to run both voice and data traffic. To avoid issues with call quality, voice traffic is often prioritized on the network – meaning data traffic is deprioritized during times of high call volumes.

While prioritizing voice traffic to improve call quality is an industry best practice, issues can arise when a network does not differentiate EHR traffic from other data, such as internet usage. Differentiating EHR traffic from other data on your network is crucial to providing a consistent user experience. To improve the reliability of your EHR software, implement Quality of Service (QoS) mechanisms that prioritize EHR traffic over

non-critical data. By doing so, your medical staff can access EHR systems without interruption, even during peak network usage. This strategy minimizes frustration and ensures that patient care remains undisrupted.

Step 3: Seamless Mobility with Enterprise Wi-Fi Networks

In the day-to-day operation of your FQHC, many providers will require access to your EHR on the go. To cater to providers who need to move around while accessing EHR data, invest in a robust enterprise Wi-Fi network. A properly designed network prevents frequent logouts and the need for repeated logins as medical staff move from patient to patient. This continuity ensures that patient data is accessible at all times, promoting efficient and uninterrupted care delivery.

Step 4: Boosting Speed and Data Handling Capacity

The sheer volume of medical information shared within EHR systems demands high-speed data handling capabilities. Consider upgrading switches and routers to
accommodate Gigabit-level data transmission. Upgrading to modern switches, like those made by Cisco Meraki, can result in significantly faster speeds. And when they’re managed by a network provider, you can reduce the need for in-house IT support when a switch goes down.

You should also consider switching from coax to fiber cable, if possible. Fiber connections offer superior bandwidth and reliability compared to traditional ethernet connections, ensuring smooth data flow within your EHR environment. Additionally, fiber-optic cable is a much more secure option, compared to coax cable – which is an added benefit for HIPAA-compliant networks.

Step 5: Uninterrupted EHR Access for Uncompromised Patient Care

Providing 24/7/367 availability of EHR applications is a critical aspect of patient care delivery. Whether hosting your EHR application internally or transitioning to an externally hosted solution, guaranteeing dual connectivity with automatic failover is essential. This approach safeguards against unexpected downtime, ensuring medical staff will always be able to provide uninterrupted patient care, regardless of any connectivity issues. To learn more, check out our blog post on The Importance of Business Continuity for FQHCs.

Step 6: Integration for Enhanced Patient Care

Elevate patient care by integrating separate applications with your EHR system. For instance, linking your call center application with your EHR can facilitate automatic screen pop-ups, reducing response time and improving patient servicing. This integration optimizes workflows and enhances communication across different facets of your health center.

More Efficient EHR Systems Result in Better Patient Care

If you’re responsible for managing the IT function at an FQHC, your role goes beyond EHR implementation – to optimizing the user experience for better care delivery. By following the six steps outlined above and incorporating these strategies across your facility, you can create an EHR ecosystem that empowers medical staff to deliver efficient and uninterrupted patient care.

Through a holistic approach to infrastructure, network prioritization, mobility, data handling, availability, and integration, you can ensure that your health center’s EHR user experience sets new standards in healthcare efficiency and patient satisfaction.