8 Insights to Improve Your Primary Care Practice
If you’re looking to make improvements in your EHR system and increase efficiency in your practice, hiring an EHR consultant can make a huge impact. Jacob Lynch is one of Medical Advantage’s expert EHR consultants. After spending just a few minutes chatting with him, it is evident that his job is more than just a paycheck. His passion for improvement and his unflinching drive toward efficiency are just a few of the qualities that make him a great asset for physician practices.
“All of our consultants are here because they want to make the practices better. We like slam dunks. And it can be pretty satisfying to see the progress of our clients,” says Lynch. “The practices know that we are on their side. We’re part of their team and we are here to support their success.”Jacob Lynch
One of Lynch’s strengths is his clinical experience. After getting his degree in biology and chemistry, he worked in the emergency room as a clerk, a receptionist, and a technician for over ten years. He went on to get his nursing license about five years ago. Then he worked at River Valley Orthopedics in Grand Rapids in a variety of clinical and operations roles. A self-proclaimed computer nerd, he found a way to blend his love of technology and his clinical knowledge as the EHR administrator for the practice.
“After I became a nurse, I realized pretty quickly that I did not want to be in direct patient care,” explains Lynch. “I wanted to go beyond additive care, which is focused on improving patient outcomes one at a time. I wanted to be a multiplier. I wanted to increase a practice’s patient outcomes by 10 percent. I wanted to affect hundreds, or even thousands of patients.”
It was that instinct for improving patient outcomes that led Lynch to pursue a position at Medical Advantage in 2018 as an in-practice technology consultant. Here are a few insights from his experience working side by side with physician practices.
1.Put the Patient at the Center
“Whenever I sit down with a new practice, I draw the same set of concentric circles. And it always starts with the patient in the center. Then the provider is in the next circle. Then the practice. Then the staff. And then there’s everything else,” explains Lynch. “When practices are making decisions, I often ask them ‘What is the best thing for the patient?’ Without the patients, there is no practice.”
“Many practices have no documented procedures for how to do something, whether it is in their EHR system or elsewhere,” says Lynch. “So, they can’t hold people accountable for doing things the correct way. The big thing I strive for in working with practices is to make sure processes are documented. That makes it easy for practice staff to make the correct choice and makes it difficult for them to fail.”
“People working in health care are making thousands of decisions a day, and you know, they’re going to get a couple of them wrong,” explains Lynch. “I try to reduce the number of decisions staff have to make and the number of things they need to remember. The EHR system should present everything they need to know right in front of them. That way, they don’t have to remember to go look for it somewhere else.”
“I’ve learned that you're not going to make any difference at a practice if you don't make friends with them,” says Lynch. “It doesn't mean that you won’t have disagreements or healthy conflict, but you need to have rapport. And you need to understand where they're coming from before you can really help them.”
5.Understand Short-Term and Long-Term Goals
“We are not a one size fits all solution. We adapt our model to the practice, which means we need to get to know their needs,” says Lynch. “I always ask my practices ‘What are your short-term goals for the next six months? And what are your long-term goals?’ If they decide to grow in those directions, the EHR system will be able to handle it. It makes them future-ready.”
6.Work Smart, Not Hard
“One of the first things I look for during an on-site analysis with a practice is what I call low-hanging fruit. These are things the staff are doing that are time-consuming and often monotonous and that should be automated,” explains Lynch. “Health care workers are smart, but if you have them doing a monotonous task for three hours a day, it is going to drain all of their creative energies and they're not going to be able to help your practice grow because their brains will be fried by 2:00 in the afternoon.”
7.Paperwork is the Enemy
“Whenever anyone fills out paperwork, there's almost always a better way to do it. Document generation and document management are usually the first places I look for inefficiencies,” explains Lynch. “If you have a medical assistant who spends four hours scanning documents every day, well that's four hours she doesn’t get to make outreach calls to patients. That is what we are trying to solve with EHR optimization.”
8. Focus on the Big Picture
“While your EHR system is important, it is only one piece of the puzzle. I also want practices to be thinking about their accounting systems and human resources systems,” says Lynch. “I think a lot of money gets left on the table and practices get stuck in the cycle of poor performance because they don’t have the right tools in place. We start with EHR optimization, but we don’t always end there. Because we find that there is much more to do.”
EHR Consultants Working Together To Improve Health Care Delivery
One of the other things that inspires Lynch, aside from working with practices, is spending time learning from other dedicated consultants at Medical Advantage. None of the practice consultants work in a vacuum. They all learn from each other and try to leverage best practices from across the health care delivery system.
“All of our consultants are here because they want to make the practices better. We like slam dunks. And it can be pretty satisfying to see the progress of our clients,” says Lynch. “The practices know that we are on their side. We're part of their team and we are here to support their success.”