The Anatomy of NextGen EHR
Most often, when providers and staff are using their NextGen EHR system, they see only the “skin” of the system. While the appearance of the program is ultimately what the users see and use everyday, it is also very important that system administrators understand the “internal organs” associated with the program. Together the system is made of of not only the “skin” but also the bones and internal organs. Just like the human body, all of these pieces together will make the system work most efficiently. If one part of the anatomy fails or is not functioning at 100% the entire system is not at it’s maximum performance.
The Skeletal System
While I am not a doctor, I did have Anatomy & Physiology in college (yes I know that sounds like a TV commercial). From my memory, the skeletal system’s primary function is to hold our bodies up and to protect all of our vital organs. This is a critical function! In the NextGen EHR, the skeletal system consists of a few main areas that support and protect the overall system within your practice. Each of these areas represent a portion of the system that must be in place for the providers and staff to use the system on a daily basis:
- NextGen EHR & EPM System
- Technology necessary to run the system
- Networking Components
- Trainers & Support Staff
The Internal Organs
Those of us in Healthcare IT, often forget that clinical providers and staff do not always have the same experience with technology that we do. The provider is required to document the patient visit. The nurse or clinical staff have their own requirements. The billing and financial staff have yet a different set of requirements. To all of the users, NextGen needs to appear on their screen and needs to work for them every single day. They are often unaware of all the background configuration that is required for them to document in the system.
Our bodies have many organs that function together in a variety of ways. Each internal organ plays a critical part in the overall operation of our daily functions. I would list the organs but there are too many for this blog and I also wouldn’t want to miss anything important like the brain…..
When your office has all of the “Skeletal System” in place, it is time to work on the internal organs of your NextGen EHR system. It is possible for a practice to use the system just based on the skeletal system outline listed above. Technically, you would have an EHR, the technology and support staff in place. However, it would not be customized to fit your specific needs.
Here are a few “internal organs” that your practice may want to perform an exam on in order to confirm things are working most efficiently.
- Template editor, where you can update those templates that you document on daily.
- File maintenance, where you can add to that list that appears in the pop up boxes throughout NextGen, add new pharmacies to the list, or update your document management system according to your needs.
- System administration, where each new team member is given the rights to document in the system.
- Document builder, where you can update the documents you generate from the system or even create a new document to your liking.
The skin is the body’s largest and fastest growing organ (Dermatologist be proud). It is also what protects us, keeps us warm or cool and keeps everything inside!!!! Basically, without the skin we would be bones and things would be falling out all the time. It is another very important part of the human body.
When put together, the NextGen EHR skeletal system along with the internal organs, are all wrapped up into one “skin” that the providers and staff use every day. This skin is what is most important to the daily operations of your practice. It keeps everything functioning in a unified way. The skin allows you to not only use the “backbone” of the system but also the “fully customized internal organs”.
Hair & Makeup
Well…. some of us also worry about hair & makeup. What does that mean to the NextGen EHR? This area represents the “nice to have” improvements to the system. These are often additional add on components that you may or may not have implemented during your initial go-live. There is often a great deal of functionality available that will improve your practice workflow and provider productivity. Here are a few examples of this:
- Patient Portal
- Photo Upload
- Dragon Dictation Software
Just like the human anatomy the EHR is made up of many parts. Each part relies on others to make sure it functions properly and at it’s highest performance. Therefore, as with our own bodies, we need to make sure our EHR is healthy (updated) and optimized for performance!