Chris Lanaman

Why Auditing Your EMR Is Essential

I want to expand on the comments I made in my last blog on the need for third-party auditing of your EMR system. I’m including an excerpt from the white paper “Why Auditing Your EMR Is Essential” that our Softek team wrote and distributed last week at HIMSS. The message struck a chord with the people we talked with — both self- and remote-hosted organizations— so I’m confident it will resound with you as well.

When patients are admitted to your hospital, they count on reliable, competent care: caregivers who are board certified, care delivery that has passed the standard of the Joint Commission, lab procedures certified for quality by the College of American Pathologists, certified dieticians who oversee patients’ dietary needs and ethical business and financial practices. In each of these areas, facilities and individuals submit to regular, independent evaluation to make sure their practices follow generally accepted industry standards and, when necessary, implement changes to bring them back into compliance.

One area overlooked in these evaluations is the operation of the EMR system itself. With more and more functionality demanded from these systems, they continue to grow in complexity. Yet no independent evaluation program is required to ensure that the EMR is performing as expected. And if it’s not, the consequences could be devastating for patients, caregivers and the facility itself.

Think of the changes you continually introduce to your configuration. Besides the customizing you do for your own unique uses, vendors are supplying a steady stream of system updates and upgrades. A technology upgrade can create myriad downstream impacts on how the EMR will behave. Every time you add a new layer, a new process, a new handoff point, you increase the likelihood of delivery failure. Each failure poses the risk of losing patient information or financial data or extending wait times for clinicians trying to input or access that information.

If your EMR system is hosted outside your own organization, you might think independent auditing doesn’t apply. After all, one of the primary reasons you sought out a knowledgeable vendor was to oversee system performance. You wanted the assurance that comes from having competent partners hosting your system. Yet how do you know that the hosting partner is catching all the performance problems that arise? Because so many performance and stability issues arise from errors with application settings rather than from technical infrastructure, who is really responsible?

Your hospital IT team knows when performance problems develop — you deal with the complaints. With the visibility that comes through a system evaluation, you can more confidently partner with your service provider to not only address system issues but also set higher standards for performance and quality of patient care.

As healthcare focuses more and more on evidence-based medicine, the IT delivery vehicle for that medicine should be evaluated in the same way: using real data from your own system, gathered by an organization independent from the vendor or your own organization, and clearly presented so that you can understand where you are and what adjustments need to be done to accomplish your goal of optimal healthcare.

Prognosis: You can learn even more about how to get an evaluation of your EMR by reading our white paper, “Why Auditing Your EMR Is Essential.” Click here to receive it.