Internal messaging systems in an EHR may not seem that important to the smaller practice but if you have ever been stuck trying to figure out if someone was told to do something or not, or when they were told, an electronic “paper trail” is priceless. Internal messaging, with its electronic paper trail, is a great place to start in improving office communication and getting staff to take responsibility.
When selecting an EHR, what should you look for in an internal messaging component?
Of course ease of use is first; the messaging system should be easy to learn and use and new messages should be received organically, that is, without having to go look for them. A good system will have notices of new messages that are visible no matter which section of the EHR system the user is in. The second thing would be the tracking of messages; when they were read, who read them, etc. The third thing to look for would be the ability to send different kinds of messages such as tasks, informatives, interrogatives and to send them with different priority levels and even ‘due by dates’ or times. Some systems have the ability to schedule delivery at a later date and time. The last would be the ability to communicate externally both by secure messaging as well as via email, to patients, labs etc.. This could be done either through this same system or with a quick link from within the system to an outside email program or secure message clearing house. And last, but not least, would be the security of the messaging which should be inside the protections of your EHR.
Stage 2 Meaningful Use requires the use of secure external communications.
External secure messaging is a Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirement for communication with patients, this is handled in most EHR systems via the patient portal. External secure messaging for outside providers or service centers, many believe, will best be achieved via clearing houses or HIE’s (Health Information Exchanges) that could work much like a paperless fax.
Click on table below for more information on Stage 2 Meaningful Use.