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Physician Optimization Project Proves Successful at Emory Healthcare

November 20, 2015
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Physicians at the Atlanta, Ga.-based Emory Healthcare removed up to one-third of clicks from their ambulatory workflow and, on average, are spending 36 percent less time finishing charts from home as a result of its physician optimization project.

The project, which involved eight weeks of implementation, was deployed across more than 80 outpatient locations and four acute care hospitals. Emory leadership saw strong adoption: 71 percent of physicians adopted the new documentation tool via Cerner, order entry increased by 74 percent, and transcription usage decreased by 29 percent. Emory said it began the project to combat the expected increase in physician workload from the transition to ICD-10 and to mitigate increasing physician frustration from navigating electronic health records (EHR) not optimized for individual workflows.

As part of the project, Emory and Kansas City-based Cerner recorded four of Emory’s most EHR-proficient physicians and counted the number of clicks in their current workflows. Cerner mapped this to the workflows enabled by the new tools, observing an average reduction of 36 clicks.

Emory leadership kicked off the project with a “communications tour” where they spoke with all 37 department clinical and operational leaders. The tour focused on the benefits each specialty would receive, including the metrics they planned to track. What’s more, Emory leaders worked closely with their Cerner team to identify and track specific metrics to assess success and identify opportunities for improvement, the organization said.

Of the 36 metrics Cerner offered, Emory chose nine and added one of its own: “Pajama Time,” which is a physician’s time spent in the EHR from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., Monday to Friday, plus weekend time. Eight weeks after implementation, clicks dropped and “Pajama Time” decreased. Emory leadership was also seeing strong adoption: 71 percent of physicians adopted the new documentation tool, order entry increased 74 percent and transcription usage decreased 29 percent.

“Showing data that illustrates the potential time-saving improvements built credibility with our physicians, and helped us increase operational engagement” Julie Hollberg, M.D., Emory’s CMIO, said in a statement. “In order to have a successful IT implementation, you have to partner people, process and technology.”

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