EHR vs. Care Management Technology: What’s the difference?

EHRs have transformed the way physicians care for patients in many positive ways. As a Becker’s Hospital Review article points out, improved accessibility to patient data, computerized physician order entry, increased charge capture and improved preventative health are some of several benefits to EHRs.

However, when it comes to automating workflows and care plan accountability, promoting data transparency, stratifying and identifying at-risk patients, and making data-driven decisions—all things that are critical to improving population health—EHRs aren’t always the most effective tool. (For more on these limitations, click here.)

Some health systems have already noticed these challenges and acted to overcome them by investing in other technology to support new payment models. A recent Deloitte survey found that “hospitals with more payments based on quality and value were more likely to adopt technologies for population health and care coordination, data aggregation and management, and reporting and analytics.”

Are you one of those health systems? If not, you may be wondering what other tools, such as care management technology, bring to the table that an EHR does not. The chart below outlines some of the key feature differences between the two, and we’ve chosen to highlight three below.

Feature EHRs Care Management Technology
Workflow Support
  • Appointment-driven workflow
  • Revenue cycle management focus
  • Structured workflows prioritize care management tasks
  • Automated care plan creation based on predetermined task triggers and SLAs
  • Customizable and scalable workflows address behavioral health and Social Determinants of Health in addition to clinical
Targeting Lists
  • Individual queries
  • Manually compiled into “Magic spreadsheets”
  • Not presented in the workflow
  • Dynamic lists
  • Flexible, sortable registries
  • Presented in workflow
Data Usability
  • Repository of clinical data
  • Highly informative of patient’s clinical status
  • Can be administratively burdensome for clinicians
  • Ability to ingest, normalize and make actionable data from disparate sources, including claims, eligibility, and EHR
  • Individual patient data captured, organized, and presented for optimal user experience
User Configuration
  • All users have access to entire patient panel
  • Data is presented in the same way regardless of user’s role
  • Configurable roles-based access to protect patient privacy and incorporate additional care team members into a patient’s care
  • Dashboard customized to highlight specific patients, tasks, and activities for which a user is accountable
Multi-Disciplinary Collaboration
  • EHR-to-EHR interoperability challenges impede collaboration
  • Common platform breaks down siloes, facilitating collaboration between providers, community resources and other members of a patient’s care team.
  • Shared care plan enhances visibility and accountability to ensure everyone fulfills their responsibility both during and in between episodes of care
Patient Engagement
  • Patient portals allow access to information but do not encourage interactivity
  • Native patient engagement functionality drives secure, impactful communication and collaboration at scale
  • 1-to-1 or 1-to-many outreach campaigns keep patients informed and strengthens bond between care managers and their patients.

Promoting Interoperability

A common complaint of EHRs—which we also highlighted in our earlier blog on this topic—is the lack of interoperability between EHRs and with other tools. Workflow transparency is critical to effective care coordination and planning. If patient information is siloed in one system, and accessibility is not possible, how can various providers properly act on patient care?

Care management technology overcomes this because it takes a multi-EHR philosophy by design. That means pulling data from anywhere required and normalizing that data to create a comprehensive view of the patient with an efficient presentation layer. This allows a patient’s entire care team to be on the same page about the path forward.

While EHRs do support the exchange of encounter information between providers, it is not guaranteed that messaging contains the entire patient care story. With care management technology, there is a single, longitudinal patient view that helps prevent miscommunication, duplicative services, and medical errors, among other things.

Enhancing Usability

When looking at all the ways a patient interacts with the healthcare continuum, you can see the number of data sources contributing to the patient’s health story grow rapidly. There is the data within the EHR—problem lists and diagnoses, medications, procedures, allergies, etc.—and then there’s the data not contained within a single EHR: data from other providers and specialists; Admission, Discharge and Transfer (ADT) notifications; skilled nursing, long-term care and home health; social determinants of health; and more. All of this data is essential to making informed care planning decisions, and yet most organizations don’t have a way to aggregate, organize and use this data.

Population health and care management platforms offer a solution to this problem. This technology gathers data from multiple sources, structures it and visualizes it in a way that care managers and providers can use it to make decisions. Compared to EHRs, which are effective for collecting and recording data, care management technology makes that data actionable.

Once data has been aggregated and organized, predictive modeling can be applied to proactively identify high risk patients, as well as their clinical, behavioral and social challenges. This level of insight is critical to true population health management.

In addition, creation of targeted lists for interventions, developing and executing care plans, following up on care plans with tasks, and engaging the full care team are all workflow requirements of care management. These have not been historical focus points of EHRs which instead focused on the clinical acute diagnosis and revenue cycle management. These disparate workflows require alternative capabilities for efficient usability of the full care team.

Additional Workflow Support

The advent of EHRs introduced significant improvements in care standardization. EHR prompts for lab orders, screenings and condition evaluation guided physicians through all necessary questions without doing it from memory, which improved productivity within the physician office.

But what about care that extends beyond those four walls? Additional support is needed to facilitate care planning among different providers and care settings. This is where care management technology comes in. Care management technology advances workflows in two ways: automation and accountability.

Based on patient data that is aggregated and analyzed within the platform, this technology automatically identifies a shared care plan that adheres to best practices and evidence-based guidelines. These automated workflows trigger alerts and interventions that make physicians more efficient, allowing them to focus more on the patient relationship.

Workflow automation also supports accountability for interventions and updating the patient record. For example, say a patient has surgery. Who is on the hook for updating the EHR? The primary care physician or the surgeon? Within care management technology, there is clear accountability between all members of the patient’s care team on who is responsible for each step in the care plan and who should update records accordingly. Also, transparency within the platform allows users to see who is adhering to the care plan (and who isn’t) to hold each other accountable.

Moving Beyond the EHR

In reviewing all the various tools and systems available to healthcare organizations, you might say to yourself, “I already have an EHR… why would I need anything else?” The fact is while EHRs solved an important problem for fee-for-service providers, they weren’t built for success in a value-based care world. Healthcare organizations must think beyond the EHR to find a system that supplements and complements the functionalities of an EHR.

Care management technology promotes success in many of the areas not addressed by EHRs, while also supporting population health efforts. Though health systems may feel discouraged to introduce another technology, these benefits vastly outweigh any hesitations or drawbacks—and it will be worth it in the end.

To learn more about how Texture Health complements your EHR and improves upon the patient care experience, contact us to schedule a demo.

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