EHR Usage | Tips Your Staff Will Thank You For

ehr usage

There are three main areas related to EHR usage that can help improve clinic operations and staff performance. The first is your EHR’s hosting, which we will discuss in more detail below. The next focuses on how you structure your clinic’s workspace. Lastly is users’ awareness of features and capabilities.    

We can’t say ‘cloud-based hosting’ enough 

If you’re not a guru, the initial set-up and configuration of your EHR can be confusing. Fortunately, how you should host your EHR has been narrowed to one primary recommendation, cloud-based hosting. This allows EHR users to be more efficient than with a traditional on-premises solution. When your clinic’s data is in the cloud, information is easier to find and share with teams. This ease of sharing improves collaboration and most importantly, patient care. Moreover, users can automate critical processes like scheduling, treatment plan steps, quality assurance, and more. Find more examples in this Top 10 Benefits article.


Taking it to the next level, you should also ensure that your EHR’s cloud-hosting solution is safe, secure, and scalable. That is why SMART chooses Amazon Web Services (AWS) to host our EHR. AWS builds in safeguards and adheres to all HIPAA requirements helping covered entities maintain and store protected health information. Learn more about compliance in the article How HIPAA Affects EHR and End Users. 

Factors outside your EHR 

The American Medical Association (AMA) suggests focusing on designing your clinic’s workspaces for efficiency. For example, you can improve your experience visually by using wider monitors or multiple screens. This makes it easier to navigate between several EHR modules throughout the day. For more information, AMA created a free tool called AMA STEPS Forward.™ This module can help you determine how to best equip your clinic and staff for success.   

Diving deeper into EHR usage 

As with most modern technology, there is almost always some feature or functionality of which end-users are unaware. The following details EHR usage tips, some are specific to SMART’s EHR users and some may be applicable industry-wide. 

Tips for Front Line Staff – Clinicians, Doctors, Nurses, Administrators 

  1. Progress notes link to treatment plans. Our progress note writing tool contains links to treatment plans for easy access and updates. Users can also link progress notes to corresponding treatment plans.
  2. Simplify group and individual scheduling. The group appointment scheduler allows users to easily add patients to groups, collect attendance signatures, and write the group data and plan note. Users can copy this information to patients’ charts along with individual assessments for those in attendance.
  3. Auto scheduling services for patients. Auto service scheduling allows Clinical, Medical, and Administrative staff to schedule regulatory and best practice services on the team’s service due reports. Furthermore, this feature also tracks quality assurance on Quantitative Services Review Reports.
  4. Automate quality assurance. Use automated alerts and delays to ensure drug testing is completed; treatment plans are signed, appointments are kept, etc.
  5. Improve staff communication. Internal messaging systems enable staff to communicate with each other as needed easily.
  6. Take the ‘shortcut’ to fewer screens. The shortcut button links to various parts of the EHR and allows the staff to access patient data without the need to navigate multiple screens saving the therapists’ time.
  7. Automating treatment plan steps. Users can schedule treatment plan reviews and updates for clinicians, so they won’t have to track due dates. In addition, clinicians can copy forward unsolved problems from the current treatment plan. This removes the need to write from scratch each time a review and update are required. 
  8. Find your favorite reports faster. Clinicians can mark their favorite reports for quick access and data view.
  9. Auto copy screening data. Preadmission Screening tool collects data enabling users to auto copy information from one portion of the chart to another, saving you and your patients time.
  10. Use autofill demographics. Paperless form tokens capture the patient demographic data for autofill on other forms, saving you time when filling out admissions information.
  11. Save paper and print to screen. All reports can ‘print to screen’ which allows the staff to view needed data without having to waste time and paper. 

Tips for Clinic Management Team – Supervisors, Managers, Directors

  1. Seamless caseload transfers. The Administrative Module allows you to transfer entire caseloads from one counselor to another when counselors transition in and out of the facility.
  2. Enrolling patients in multiple modalities. ‘Multiple episode features’ allow the patient to be enrolled in various modalities. Most importantly, this feature enables clinicians to share the chart, so everyone treating the patient knows what the other clinicians are working on without having to call or send correspondence.
  3. Indicating service types for specific programs. Users can attach service types to specific programs so that the clinicians only see the services the agency would like to them to choose from instead of having to decide.
  4. Use dashboards for a better view of notes and statues. Dashboards allow case managers and management to readily view completed notes, unfinished notes, unapproved treatment plans, and signatures pending so they can assure that compliance is always communicated.
  5. Easily manage all clinic reports. Reports are designed to maintain the whole clinic within one system. You can find multiple reports such as Quality Assurance, Services Due, Direct Services, Drug Testing, Census, Self-Pay Balance, Insurance Billing reports, and much more. 

 Tips for Billing Team


  1. Preventing failed insurance audits: Configure services with the ‘minimum’ and ‘maximum’ amount of time that must be spent to bill. If a clinician does not enter enough time, they will receive a warning. And even if they ignore the warning and click ‘save,’ the billing configuration, if set with a minimum, will prevent billing for those services. 
  2. Billing for clinical services – Unfinished Notes report should be reviewed regularly to ensure that all billable services are ‘saved complete’ and are available to bill. SMART’s EHR will not bill for a clinical service unless it is ‘saved complete’. 

An endless number of factors can affect EHR usage, but knowing some of what you can proactively improve may help ease your daily processes in the long-term.  Learn more about SMART’s Cloud-Based EHR Software

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