A lot has been written about client/patient satisfaction in the hospice and home health agency (HHA) arenas: what impacts it and how it affects the bottom line. We know that attracting and retaining quality staff is crucial to patient satisfaction and overall agency success, and a quality EMR can be an invaluable tool in this ongoing effort. In the hospice and HHA arenas particularly, a patient’s interaction with the EMR is relatively limited. The relationship between client/patient satisfaction and the EMR is therefore an indirect one; it is more about the staff clinicians’ interaction with the system, and about how the EMR impacts the clinicians’ ability to offer quality care to their patients.
Quality EMR + Quality Training = Happy Staff (and Satisfied Clients/Patients)
We are a plugged-in society. Today’s employees come to work with the expectation of a technologically up-to-date work environment. Hospice and HHA staff are no different. EMRs are increasingly common throughout the HHA and hospice arena, but not just any EMR can affect positive change in staff satisfaction and employee retention. Tech-savvy users demand efficient, intuitive, user-friendly EMR solutions. Just as important, agencies must commit to comprehensive and ongoing staff training. EMR training can help HHA and hospice providers improve staff satisfaction, both through the training on the system itself, and through the information and education available within the system.
Quality of care and your EMR
Your EMR can do more than positively affect staff training, morale and retention. A quality EMR can improve the quality of care your patients receive. The bottom line can’t be ignored, however, and hospice and home health agencies must be assured that the benefits of their system outweigh the costs of EMR implementation. This means OASIS-D compliance and certified system security. The best EMR systems will offer seamless integration of OASIS-D datasets, integrate clinical workflows and guidance, and link with outcomes measurement. They will improve training and ongoing education, build competency in case management, and facilitate safe and reliable medication administration. Quality EMRs provide access to legible medical information; electronic referrals; clinical alerts and reminders; clinical protocols, guidelines and education; and much more. The best EMRs offer reliable interoperability with other healthcare systems such as HIEs, ACOs, and acute, post-acute and ambulatory EMRs, which means quick access to complete patient records for coordinated, efficient care.
Clinician-patient interaction and your EMR
Patient satisfaction does not equal quality of care or clinical outcomes, but instead correlates more closely with caregiver interaction and communication. While point-of-care documentation is sometimes seen as a barrier to clinician-patient interaction, a quality EMR system offers tools that can enhance this interaction. It can improve communication between clinician and patient, offering clinicians access to educational and multi-disciplinary information to educate and assist the patient. Consistency in verbiage is another benefit of a quality EMR—critical in the home health arena, where there are multiple clinicians visiting a patient’s home. Your EMR can prompt for consistent verbiage, which will aid the patient in understanding and remembering the plan of care.
Should patient satisfaction and quality be linked? Ideally, yes. And could they be linked for your hospice or HHA? Yes, with the right EMR. The right EMR is intuitive and user-friendly, and allows maximum patient-caregiver interaction.
Looking forward, patients themselves may be demanding a quality EMR system. Younger generations of healthcare consumers already have technological expectations of their healthcare providers. Although hospice and home health agencies deal with an older population for the most part, that population will become increasingly tech-savvy—and technologically demanding—over time.