Measuring EHR Implementation Success: How to Track Performance and Continuously Improve

Get a FREE Demo

Short-Term Wins, Long-Term Gains: Using Metrics to Drive Continuous Improvement

Key performance indicators (KPIs) across clinical outcomes, efficiency, finances, and user satisfaction, along with baseline measurements and ongoing tracking, are essential to continuously measure and improve EHR implementation success.

Implementing an electronic health record (EHR) system is a major undertaking that requires substantial investments in software, hardware, training, and process changes. 

But simply having an EHR up and running doesn't automatically equal success. The real question is - how can healthcare organizations accurately measure whether their EHR implementation is achieving the desired results?

Defining clear, quantifiable metrics is key to assessing performance, maximizing value, and driving ongoing optimization. In this guide, we'll explore proven strategies to measure success throughout your EHR journey.

What Are the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for EHR Success?

A Medical Doctor Using EHR for Checking X-Ray Result

When developing metrics, it's important to establish key performance indicators (KPIs) that provide a multifaceted view of the impact and effectiveness of your EHR system. Here are some of the most critical KPIs to track:

Clinical Outcomes

  • Medication errors rate
  • Adverse drug reactions
  • Mortality and morbidity rates
  • Hospital-acquired infection rates
  • Readmission rates

Monitoring clinical outcome measures allows you to quantify the EHR's impact on patient safety, quality of care, and health outcomes. Any improvements or declines post-implementation can highlight whether the EHR is supporting or hindering care.

Efficiency Metrics

  • Patient wait times
  • Length of stay
  • Time-to-treatment
  • Clinical documentation time
  • Claims processing and reimbursement turnaround times

Evaluating efficiency metrics helps determine if the EHR is streamlining workflows and care coordination as intended. This data enables you to identify bottlenecks and make process improvements.

Financial Indicators

  • Cost savings
  • Return on investment
  • Revenue cycle performance
  • Accounts receivable days
  • Denials rate

Financial KPIs reveal the monetary impact of your EHR investment. Tracking metrics like ROI and revenue performance provides concrete data to assess the value derived.

User Satisfaction

  • Clinician satisfaction scores
  • Nursing satisfaction scores
  • Staff satisfaction scores
  • Patient satisfaction scores

User feedback offers qualitative insights into the human impact of your EHR system. Measuring satisfaction across all user groups is key to minimizing frustration and resistance.

For each KPI, defining specific data points to track will provide the level of granularity needed to derive actionable insights. Set targets for improvement and rigorously measure performance over time.

How Do We Establish Baseline Measurements Before EHR Implementation?

In order to evaluate the impact of your EHR system, you first need to establish baselines to compare against.

Collecting robust pre-implementation data provides a benchmark representing performance before the EHR go-live. Some strategies include:

  • Conducting time and motion studies to capture efficiency metrics related to documentation, order entry, discharge times, and other workflows. This provides quantifiable data to compare post-implementation.
  • Gathering retrospective data on clinical, operational, and financial metrics for 1-2 years pre-implementation. Auditing past records offers a historical baseline.
  • Administering user satisfaction surveys to clinicians, nurses, staff, and patients to gauge experience and identify pain points before the transition. The same survey can be conducted post-implementation to quantify differences.
  • Tracking relevant quality metrics already captured through hospital reporting systems. Having this baseline data will allow direct comparisons on the impact of the EHR on quality performance.

The key is consistency in data collection methods and sources pre- and post-implementation. Leverage both quantitative and qualitative data to gain a comprehensive picture of the pre-EHR landscape across all KPIs.

What Timeframe Should We Use for Measuring EHR Success?

EHR success should be evaluated on both a short-term and long-term basis.

Short-term metrics focus on the immediate impact after go-live. Some examples include:

  • Clinical documentation time per patient
  • Medication turnaround time
  • Claim denials rate
  • Frequency of support tickets or system errors

Tracking short-term metrics as early as 1-3 months post-implementation highlights opportunities for quick wins. This data can pinpoint areas needing additional training or optimization to resolve immediate pain points.

Longer-term metrics evaluate whether benefits are sustained over time. For instance:

  • 2-3 years of clinical outcome trends
  • Year-over-year cost savings
  • Physician satisfaction scores each year

Assessing long-term KPIs on a yearly basis provides insights into whether the EHR value is increasing versus declining after the initial implementation. This helps identify needs for upgrade investment or additional build-outs.

The timeline for success depends on your organization and goals. However, evaluating both short and long-term metrics is key to support continuous improvement.

How Can We Track and Analyze EHR Data to Measure Success?

Robust reporting and analytics tools are essential to monitor KPIs. Consider these tips:

  • Leverage EHR dashboard tools to pull reports on efficiency metrics, clinical data, financial performance, and user activity. Many systems have built-in reporting functionalities.
  • Use data visualization platforms to create customized dashboards for visual data presentation. Interactive visualizations engage stakeholders more effectively.
  • Take advantage of analytics modules offered by some vendors for deeper data analysis. This can uncover trends and insights beyond basic reporting.
  • Consider third-party analytics integration for additional reporting flexibility. Some third-party business intelligence tools connect with EHR systems.
  • Build a data and analytics team to oversee data collection, analysis, and distribution of meaningful insights across the organization.

The goal is to not just collect data, but display it in a meaningful way. Well-designed reports, scorecards, and data visualizations communicate success more powerfully.

What Are the Common Challenges in Measuring EHR Success, and How Can We Overcome Them?

Several roadblocks can impede effective measurement. Being aware of these challenges allows you to proactively address them:

  • Data inconsistencies due to lack of standards and changing definitions make accurate comparisons difficult. Create strict protocols and documentation for how metrics are defined and measured.
  • Resistance to change may lead to lack of adherence to new workflows, which distorts metrics. Engage staff early and emphasize how data will support positive change, not punitive measures.
  • Inadequate training results in improper use, reducing data accuracy. Ensure comprehensive user training and leverage super users to reinforce best practices.
  • Overwhelming data makes it hard to extract meaning. Limit measurements to the most high-value KPIs with proven strategic significance.
  • No context to interpret results. Use benchmarks from established industry sources like peer hospitals to provide context for comparison.

With deliberate efforts to uphold data discipline, establish context, and engage users, common measurement hurdles can be overcome.

How Can We Use Success Measurements to Continuously Improve EHR Implementation?

Doctor and Patient Consult

Measurement is not the end goal - it is just the beginning. The real value is using data-driven insights to drive ongoing enhancements.

Consider these tips to enable continuous improvement:

  • Gather qualitative feedback through user interviews and focus groups. This human context helps interpret the quantitative data.
  • Develop a user feedback loop through surveys, meetings, and other touchpoints. Regular input ensures you respond rapidly to evolving needs.
  • Re-evaluate workflows that metrics show as underperforming. Streamline inefficient processes causing bottlenecks.
  • Expand EHR capabilities in areas that have proven value. For example, add telehealth or population health modules once clinical outcomes validate their need.
  • Refine training and support based on user satisfaction scores. Bolster areas with lowest confidence levels.
  • Set target goals for priority KPIs each year to motivate continuous enhancement, versus complacency.

With an action-focused, iterative approach, EHR success measurement becomes the driver for reaching new heights of performance and value.

The Takeaway

Measuring EHR success requires:

  • Multidimensional KPIs encompassing efficiency, clinical impact, financial return, and user experience
  • Rigorous baseline data collection pre-implementation for comparison
  • Ongoing short and long-term measurements on defined timelines
  • Robust analytics and reporting capabilities
  • Strategies to address potential data accuracy and user engagement roadblocks
  • An action-oriented culture focused on continuous improvement

Rather than a single project with a pass/fail grade, EHR implementation is an ongoing process of refinement and optimization. Taking the time to accurately measure success through concrete metrics is the only way to maximize your EHR investment and continue driving value over the long run.

Related Posts