Building Your Physician EHR Satisfaction Program: Starting with a Strong Foundation

Perspective from Dr. Brian Patty, Chief Medical Informatics Officer, Medix Technology

As I introduced at the start of this series, I like to think of building a physician satisfaction program like building a house. First, you need to have a strong foundation made up of a well-designed, well-implemented, and continually optimized EHR. If you don’t start with this strong foundation, the rest of your satisfaction program will be on shaky ground. To build this foundation, you need to have a strategy with the end in mind, one which includes both the initial build and a program to maintain and evolve that build over time.

The Initial Build

First and foremost, if you are implementing an EHR from a new vendor, listen to your EHR vendor! Your vendor designed the software, and the best vendors have evolved their software over many years with feedback from the countless installs prior to yours. Second, with that said, get a second opinion and engage an advisor who has been through implementations of your vendor’s software before. Finally, listen to your end-users; they know their workflows the best, and they are the best barometers for when tweaks to the standard workflows are needed. A good balance of those three voices should result in a solid initial build.

Continually Evolving Your EHR

Once you are live, you need a plan to continually evolve your EHR. Vendor software, end users’ needs and organizational strategies change over time. Your EHR should evolve with those changes. Be strategic with your upgrade planning to make sure you prioritize features that align with organizational strategy and end-user desires. Also, vendors typically inform organizations of the software features they feel will make an impact. For instance, Epic has its Gold Stars measures; pay attention to these. If you fall below an 8-star rating in any area, use your governance teams to determine your strategies to get back on track. 

There are two other techniques I like to use to make sure the EHR is evolving to meet end-user needs: 

  • “Quick win” teams to remove daily frustrations within local workflows
  • Measurement to identify larger projects to impact more global issues

Quick Win Teams

For day-to-day “quick wins,” I like forming small teams made up of an informed end-user (use Epic’s Physician Builder and Clinical Informaticist courses or similar programs to develop these people), an analyst and a certified trainer.These triads are an excellent way to identify and remove the little nuisances that plague your end users but don’t rise to “project” status. It is also a good way to knock out those pesky “quick wins” on your Gold Stars dashboard. Embed these teams into as many critical workflows in your organization as you can afford (ICU, ER, OR/Surgery, Peds, L&D/OB-Gyn, Primary Care, Specialty Clinics, etc.) and give them the latitude to make the needed changes unique to the workflows they know best.


Measurement of both end-user satisfaction and areas of global inefficiency are also a must. Use externally benchmarked measures whenever possible. Measuring takes courage.  Measuring means that you are open-minded to the results and will invest in the activities needed to improve.

Satisfaction and Inefficiencies

For satisfaction, I think there is no better tool than the KLAS Arch Collaborative Survey. While the cost may seem daunting at first, the data and insights provided, which are benchmarked against like-organizations, are invaluable. Plan on measuring at least twice. The first measurement will identify which areas of change you need to focus on; the second will track the effect of the changes you put in place and identify adjustments needed in your plan.

For inefficiencies, consult your Epic Signal data (or similar tool provided by your vendor). Signal is an excellent way to see both where individuals and groups as a whole are struggling. If one person is an outlier within your organization, make sure that person receives the needed attention. If there are areas in which your organization as a whole is an outlier when benchmarked against like-organizations, this represents some system work that needs to be done. Validate these findings with your governance groups in order to devise a strategy for getting back on track.

As with any construction project, building and maintaining a strong foundation on which the rest of your program will stand is key. Only after this foundation is in place can organizations look ahead to key, associated technologies that will strengthen this base. Then, it’s on to the core structure of a successful physician EHR satisfaction program!

Interested in learning how Medix Technology can supply the leadership, guidance and talent you need to accelerate the building of a successful and cost-effective physician satisfaction program at your organization? Get in touch with our team today. 

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