When it comes to electronic health records (EHRs), practice makes perfect, said Susan
Kressly, MD, FAAP.
“The EHR is a tool, and like every other tool we have in medicine (an otoscope, a
stethoscope, a bedside ultrasound), the more practice you have and time you take in
using the tool, the more it becomes something that you are familiar with and adds
value to the care of your patients,” said Dr. Kressly, a member of the AAP Council
on Clinical Information Technology and Section on Administration and Practice Management.
Dr. Kressly will discuss how pediatricians can use their EHRs to improve practice
efficiency, patient care and payments during a session titled “Your EHR: Putting It
to Work for You, Not the Other Way Around (F3132)” from 3:00-3:45 pm Monday in McCormick
Place West, W180.
Nearly 90% of office-based physicians had adopted EHRs as of 2015, according to the
federal Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. Whether
used in a large organization or solo practice, there are obstacles to overcome, Dr.
“Some of the challenges in larger organizations stem from the fact that the pediatrician
has no voice in what (EHR) is chosen,” she said. “It's chosen to support the adult
medical side of the organization, and the pediatricians are stuck trying to fit kids’
needs into an adult-based EHR.”
When pediatricians do have a choice, they aren’t sure what to look for to make sure
an EHR meets their needs.
Time also is a huge challenge, said Dr. Kressly, founder and president of Kressly
Pediatrics, PC in Warrington, Pa.
Many practices think they can save time by having someone else set up the system.
“However, if you don't know how it is set up, you can't use it effectively,” she said.
“Not only do pediatricians need to spend the time to learn how their EHR works, but
it has to be continuous learning. There will absolutely be upgrades, new features,
bug fixes as an ongoing process.”
Despite these hurdles, Dr. Kressly said pediatricians can take steps to use their
EHR effectively and efficiently and boost their bottom line.
“Putting in the time upfront pays you in every office visit,” she said.
She suggests customizing templates and having office staff and patients do some of
the data entry work. “There are creative ways to do that and make your visits less
onerous, including robust patient engagement through patient portals,” she said.
Use of EHRs also can lead to higher payments, pay-for-performance bonuses and better
contracts, she added.
Patient care is yet another area that can benefit from EHR data.
“Pediatricians have to understand that the real power of the EHR is not in the documentation
of what happens in a visit,” Dr. Kressly said. “It's managing your population as a
whole and identifying those patients who are due/overdue for services (such as ADHD
rechecks, well visits, immunizations), having a way to identify them, reach out to
them and recall them to get them in for appropriate care.”