EHR adoption by the practices has been fierce during the last decade. The effect of utilising technology to automate healthcare business has been immense.
This article/blog focuses on evaluating the gains urgent care setup has shown provided the EHR technology investments and the potential for the urgent care setups to improve operations by more cautiously picking, implementing and tuning their EHRs.
Its critical for an urgent care practice to ensure the urgent care operators have to be facilitating ensure quick and accurate patient throughput. But speed and accuracy are easier said than done.
Most EHRs available today serve multispecialty and aren’t exactly built keeping Urgent Care setup and workflow in mind. Tuning a generic EHR according to urgent care workflow can be achieved only applying precise top-down controlled specialty specific customizations rather than configuring each practice or provider account exclusively.
We have delineated a few features an urgent care EHR should facilitate for the urgent care setup to be running efficiently:
1. Smartphone-Enabled Patients Line up and Check-in:
Smartphone- Enabled Patients Line up and Check-in is one of the must have functionalities for an Urgent Care EHR and a competitive qualifier. This functionality helps in decreasing the patient wait time significantly and managing high patient volumes efficiently. Patient’s acceptance towards the functionality also shows patients willingness to utilize technology to access care. Smartphone- Enabled Patients Line up and Check-in could be a built in or a bolt-on for an Urgent Care EHR and definitely is value for money for an urgent care practice.
2. Urgent Care Specific Patient Registration:
A generic EHR usually prompt for a large wide-ranging collection of patient data but do not trim down the data to essential elements needed for an urgent care visit, resulting in the user toggling between multiple screens, clicking around and viewing information that isn’t really needed. Such search for required data fields is time consuming and can result in human error. An Urgent Care EHR’s patient registration process should be designed on “information that is precisely needed,” basis and not as the “kitchen sink.” Ideally, specialty based minimum essential data set should be covered in a single screen. Patient registration should also be possible through a mobile device or tablet and patients should also be able to capture and share insurance information and IDs via smartphone scanner.
3. Urgent Care Encounter Charting:
Urgent Care EHR’s workflow should be systematized to take out manual tasks involved and capture patient data usefully and meaningfully. For allowing quick, comprehensive and flexible patient charting Urgent Care EHR should have on the fly configurable pick lists. Presence of an inbuilt practice-centric template bank & uniform mechanism in the patient chart to ensure appropriate multiple diagnosis capturing and correct clinical representation for correct Medicare Advantage risk adjustment measures and reimbursement.
Inbuilt features like an urgent care tracker sheet facilitating comprehensive quick view of all the patients scheduled and their real time status, patient flowsheet offering relevant information for every patient at a single page for easy charting, patient education handouts with the electronically sharing capability through the patient portal to improve patients’ understanding of health conditions leading towards an active roleplay in self-health care complying with their provider’s recommended regimen.
4. Urgent Care Specific Eligibility Verification:
In most Urgent Care setups, eligibility verification is done at patient’s check-in demanding the Urgent Care EHR’s eligibility verification module to be configurable for on-the-fly and should pre-populate the EHR with the result. Clear, comprehendible and specialty specific health plans could help with required data; however, most health plans still miss to include an urgent care co-pay, or the benefit detail is buried under “U” on the long list of options, for an instance. Health plans surely want to resolve such glitches but unfortunately the walk-in industry is often not completely known to them.
5. Non-Conforming Challenges for Labs and Radiology:
Labs: Most health systems usually charge Labs only upon results which might delay the closing of the patient encounter if the EHR is not set to streamline revenue cycle. For an Urgent Care setup; if possible, lab tests should be a separate encounter in EHR, automatically generated by the clinical encounter and pulling the diagnoses from clinical encounter.
Radiology: Like Labs; most health systems usually charge radiology services only upon results which might delay the closing of the patient encounter if the EHR is not set to streamline revenue cycle. Over reads should process automatically in the Urgent Care EHR and charged as a service to the urgent care center. Radiology services setup should have required patient registration data flowing in automatically without requiring a separate radiology registration.
6. Patient Discharge Workflow:
Finally, in an urgent care center, patient encounter should be closed by the end of the day. Having to complete charts at home or banking on a health system-wide three-day rule is a red flag. An inbuilt practice-centric template bank, on-the fly configurable pick lists, patient flowsheet and the urgent care tracker sheet in the EHR assists urgent care practice in quick, comprehensive and flexible patient charting fulfilling the required protocol.
OmniMD is a cloud-based Certified EHR and Revenue Cycle Management solution that has helped over 12,000 healthcare professionals and hundreds of medical practices transform their clinical operations, patient care, and financial health through technology and services since 2001.
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