KLAS is Missing Vital Criteria in Vendor Assessment

1847252By Alex Tate

KLAS, founded in 1996 was and still is a driving force and leader in regard to EHR vendor companies. KLAS focuses on the creation of a mission-centric culture of transparency and accuracy in the development and usability of electronic medical record technologies that enabled physicians to reform health care IT landscape from paper to digital. However, even with their very valuable and often vital criteria, they’re missing one aspect of the equation: the patients.

Patients should always be considered an integral part of any advancements in healthcare technologies. After all, they’re the ones who are affected by a physician’s use of such technology. There is no doubt that KLAS is invaluable when it comes to health IT; their models utilize feedback provided by healthcare professionals in regard to their own IT usage and solutions capabilities, and in their ability to compile and analyze quality checks. This feedback also applies to the amalgamation of research and in analyzing data that focuses on identification of evolving trends, as well as sharing their research and data with healthcare organizations, not to mention their work with vendor developers to help improve user experience.

Where’s the patient?

But where’s the patient? Why aren’t patients asked to provide their responses to and feedback on their doctor’s use of EMR/EHR systems? It’s vital to keep the perspective of the patient in mind when developing electronic health record/electronic medical record technologies because they are the ones ultimately serviced by such technologies. The growing use of digital, virtual and mobile health technologies should be utilized to encourage and engage patient care education, feedback, and compliance that invites them to become a team member in their own health care.

Unfortunately, doctor have complained of their growing concerns that this new focus on EHR data input takes away that very valuable face time with patients, and their relationship with their patients. Patients feel much the same way:

  • The doctor is so busy tapping information into the tablet or iPad that they barely look at them.
  • They’re asked the same questions repeatedly because data is not entered correctly into the EMR, or in the wrong place.
  • Time they would spend speaking with the doctor is reduced due to his/her need to input data and click between tabs to find specific information, giving the impression that the doctor is only half-listening.

It’s no secret that healthcare IT developers and information exchanges have pretty much ignored patient input in regard to the development and utilization of EHR. Another main focus of concern? Patient portals. While transitioning from Meaningful Use to MACRA has encouraged the availability and acceptability of patient portals in regard to patient ability to access their own healthcare data, to make appointments, as well as ease of ePrescribing, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Greater focus regarding the perspective of the patient should and must be listened to in order to develop greater functionality, usability, and patient-centric features with mobile technologies.

In spite of today’s advancements in mobile technologies there is still a consensus among many physicians that patients can’t understand or would potentially misuse or misinterpret information from patient portals. That leaves them in a conundrum; just how much information should be available to any patient?

Best in KLAS

KLAS reports rank the top performing vendors in a variety of healthcare segments on an annual basis. Vendors finding their name on this list benefit. The Best in KLAS reports are developed based on feedback of customers (doctors and users of EMR/EHR systems) and focuses on vendor teams in regard to innovation, creativity, and customer success of those vendors and physicians over revenue. Over 50 market categories analyze feedback and input from healthcare professionals in regard to their technology systems and choices, but again, why not include patient impressions and feedback in all this?

There is no doubt that a health information technology system providing positive cognitive support improves the workplace environment and implementation and representation of information and understanding. Such a system also improves task performance. There is also no doubt that EHR systems have an impact on improving efficiency, safety, and quality of care. 

Patients must be brought into the development process

It can often be difficult enough for physicians or physician staff to be involved in the development or customization of EHR systems as it is, but patients? Nearly unheard of!  Nevertheless, because the patient is the one most affected by developing technologies, why shouldn’t they be made an important part of reform when it comes to health IT?

Doctors are not the only ones complaining about the often convoluted and complicated functionality or difficulty of use of many EHR systems. When a person goes to the doctor’s office, they expect that valuable face time with the doctor, not watching the doctor focus on their tablet or mobile device. Patient satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) surveys should be implemented as an aspect of improving development and performance of healthcare IT technologies.

Back in 2013, the Medical Group Management Association conducted a survey that reported approximately 80% of practices enhanced their performance by using patient satisfaction surveys. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of studies that assess the impact of EHR/EMR systems regarding satisfaction from the perspective of the patient. While patient satisfaction and quality of care is deemed one of the driving factors behind continually changing and “improved” regulations focusing on patient care, those patients are very rarely approached and asked how mobile health technologies impact their impressions of care. Doctors are not the only ones complaining of wasted time.

A 2014 survey of physicians (“Doctors Say Electronic Records Waste Time“) reported complaints of at least four hours wasted weekly recording patient data into digital records. That reflects on face time with patients, and because patients are directly affected by this, they should have a say. Patient participation is encouraged by healthcare policy researchers, providers, and the National Learning Consortium, but this encouragement hasn’t yet contributed to more input from patients in regard to new and developing technologies to improve mobile healthcare applications, systems, software, and processes.

KLAS is missing important and valuable criteria in their vendor assessments. It’s not just about the development of patient portals. It’s not just about providing patients with easier access to personal health information. It’s not about policies, regulations, or guidelines.  It’s about improving health IT through the input of the individuals affected most by advancing technologies.

Alex Tate is a health IT fanatic who is passionate about technology and its revolutionary impact on the healthcare industry. He adds value to the healthcare community by providing answers to problems faced by the providers. He is always hunting hot topics and opportunities that will open new dimensions in the field of Health IT.  

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