Despite efforts in Congress to defund the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, it’s business as usual for the health care research clearinghouse. Its latest handbook, “An Interactive Preventive Care Record [IPHR],” posits that quality-minded health care providers — meaning, those who will be getting paid to report and improve on benchmarks — need to focus their personal health record (PHR) or patient portal implementations on executing preventive measures. These aim to keep patients healthier by tracking things like routine tests and vaccinations as well as flagging for behavioral exams when signs point to their necessity.
But it isn’t just a theoretical essay; it lays out that implementation process, step by step, as the authors from Virginia Commonwealth University practitioners did it themselves. Along the way, they make the point that preventive PHRs will not happen until a provider’s electronic health record (EHR) implementation is complete — and done right. So they offer tips on doing just that, which is advice that any provider in the midst of an EHR implementation can use.
Especially important, the VCU authors say, is getting practitioners to consistently enter data into the EHR. Drilling down to workflow nuts and bolts, they suggest that even when a practitioner enters correct information into a patient record, it’s not interoperable data if it’s in the wrong place. Common errors that prevent an electronic transfer of information include:
● Not entering information into the record.
● Not recording information in the EHR’s standard place.
● Not recording information in the standard format.
● Not using the electronic order functions within an EHR.
● Not recording information with the appropriate specificity.
● Typing information into bodies of notes as text.
● Not recording an electronic date with information.
● Relying on scanned documents for information.
“Before implementing an IPHR, staff and clinicians often enter information into their EHR in a manner that works well for their needs, but is not amenable to an automated, electronic transfer,” they write. “Many practices need to relearn how they enter EHR information when they transition to making information available to patients through an IPHR.”
We’d suggest that rooting out those data-entry problems in any EHR implementation — IPHR or not — will lead to more interoperable, usable, exchangeable health data and will get a provider on the road to eligibility for public and commercial payer quality incentive programs. It also gives patients more access to their health data, which is the goal of all these technology initiatives anyway, right?