Epic EHR system

By DISC Corporation | July 1, 2022

How to regain control of indexing and open orders

Many electronic health record systems (EHRs) make it optional to match incoming documents with open orders. But not Epic. The Epic EHR system requires documents to match with physicians’ orders and patient encounters.

That means your health information management (HIM) staff must open the patient record and confirm the order before linking it with the lab result.

Understandably, your team likely takes a bit longer to close the loop than they did with your previous EHR. Every click adds up. In fact, Epic averages 15-20% more mouse clicks per document.

The simple truth is that your team can’t correctly index as many records as before. You’ll likely wind up with a backlog of documentation that grows larger every day.

Get ahead of indexing delays in 4 steps

Thankfully, there are ways to avoid an indexing backlog. One option is to hire more employees or reallocate current team members.

But some organizations prefer to outsource their indexing to an automated service, like SmartFiler. If outsourcing is the right choice for your team, consider following these steps at least 90 days before your go-live.

Step 1: Define the new document type list

Document type lists can include everything from HIPAA forms to lab reports. Whether your team already has one or not, now is a good time to make sure you have a complete and standardized type list for all users and locations.

If you’re uncertain where to start, we’ve developed a standard list through our work helping healthcare organizations of all sizes transition to Epic. Download it now to see the type lists others are using.

Step 2: Determine the level for each document

Once your list is ready, it’s crucial to develop a standard policy for assigning levels to each document type. These help reduce clicks and make sure documents are organized appropriately. Options include Order Level, Encounter Level, and Patient Level.

For example, Patient Level would include any information specific to the patient (like copies of their driver’s license or insurance card). But Patient Level documents are not related to a specific visit—that’s Encounter Level. Order Level is just what it sounds like: documents related to physician orders.

Step 3: Create policies for document types

Epic EHR system doesn’t offer document type descriptions in a dropdown menu. Instead, your team must rely on open-text labeling. But inconsistencies are likely, and they can cause problems.

Without a standardized policy for your entire organization, users will have different ways of describing the same things. That means significant data points might not appear in searches. Important information could go unseen, and patient risk would become an ever-growing concern.

Remember that descriptions are visible in the Chart Review. So keep your descriptions clear and concise. For example, suppose the document type is a lab order. In that case, the description could simply be the type of lab ordered by the provider.

Expect indexing time to increase

The simple truth is that Epic takes longer to index a record. And the extra time for each document can really add up.

Adjusting expectations and making realistic plans will help your team succeed. If you understand that at the beginning, you’ll be better prepared to navigate the challenges ahead.

Overcome the challenges of switching to the Epic EHR system

Some provider organizations reallocate IT and clinical staff to prevent these challenges and avoid an indexing backlog. They shift skilled workers to process the additional paperwork. 

It’s not a good use of their time. And even with the extra help, it’s almost impossible to catch up when there’s a multi-week backlog of documents. That’s why some organizations prefer using an automated indexing service like SmartFiler.

SmartFiler is a technology-enabled service supported by highly-trained human experts to make sure each document is indexed quickly and correctly. Documents are filed in as little as four hours with up to 99.99% accuracy.

Contact DISC to learn more about how SmartFiler can ease your transition to Epic and reduce your indexing time.

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