Helping the Help Desk: Getting Faster and Better Fixes for Your EHR Issues

Marc Daley, In-Practice Technology Services Consultant Electronic Health Records (EHR)

EHR help desk

Your Electronic Health Record (EHR) system is the hub of your practice. It is used by staff at all levels, from receptionists to clinicians. Time spent on EHR data entry instead of interacting with patients is a common complaint from clinical staff. Studies show that clinicians spend as much time entering information into the EHR as spending face-to-face time with patients, which can have a direct impact on job satisfaction.

EHR systems can be challenging, even when they are operating at their full potential. But when the system breaks down or slows down, it can really cause headaches for your practice. Clinicians are often the first people to identify that there is an issue with the EHR, and yet they do not always have the tools to communicate the nature of the problem to IT staff. With a few simple tips, you can improve communication and response time from your EHR help desk.

When you think about it, EHR help desk technicians play a similar role as clinicians. Their job is to listen and gather information to diagnose and fix issues. The more information you can provide, the better the EHR help desk staff can do their job. Imagine that a patient comes in to your office for a sick visit, and the conversation goes something like this:

Provider: “What brings you in today?”

Patient: “I don’t feel well.”

Provider: “I’m sorry to hear that. What are your symptoms?”

Patient: “I don’t know. Just make me feel better.”

If the patient doesn’t clearly communicate what is going on, it is very difficult to diagnose and treat the symptoms. Similarly, if there are issues with your EHR system and the EHR help desk gets a generic ticket or call to say that it is not working, it is very hard to diagnose the problem. This can lead to wasted time, increased costs, and frustration on both sides.

Many clinical staff are hesitant to delve into the details of a system issue for a variety of reasons. They may not have time to research the issue, or they may not feel comfortable describing issues in technical terms. For people who are not technically proficient, communicating the specifics of an IT issue may seem intimidating or difficult. But it is really very simple. All it takes is a little bit of time and effort.

EHR Help Desk Communication Tips

Here some tips to help you communicate with the help desk and get the results you want:

  1. Be specific. Describe the area of the EHR system where you are having the issue. It may be a section of your chart note that you can’t access, or there may be a medication missing from your patient’s list of current medications. Don’t worry about using technical terms. Just describe your issue as clearly as possible.
  2. Consider the scope of the issue. Let the EHR help desk know if the issue seems to be specific to one patient or if it is something that happens with more than one patient. Also, let them know if the issue has occurred with other users (if you are aware of any) and how long it has been happening.
  3. Include a screen shot. If you can, take a screen shot of any error message that appears on the screen. Windows 10 has an excellent tool for sending a screenshot called Snipping Tool, where you can “snip” a picture of the error message. Once that’s done, you can save it and send it to the help desk.
  4. Provide contact information. Be sure to include your contact information and provide a preferred method of communication so the help desk can contact you with updates and a resolution when it is convenient for you.

In many cases, the EHR help desk has direct access to the EHR system, so they should be able to replicate the issue without having to involve you. If it is necessary to sit with you to view the error, the help desk staff can schedule a time that works around your patient care schedule. Even though it is a high priority to fix EHR system issues, the help desk technicians understand that the most important tasks involve patient care.

When it comes to patient care, communication is key. The same is true for technology issues. Spending just a few extra minutes to document your issue will help the help desk to get the EHR system back up and running as soon as possible.