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We’re listening: Transforming the patient encounter

The encounter is the epicenter of patient care in any EHR. It is used thousands of times a day to guide patient visits. Over the years, we have heard a wide range of feedback from Practice Fusion customers about our encounter design. This feedback ranged from some expressing concerns with perceived data density and legibility to a lack of customization features.

Addressing such a critical and complex part of Practice Fusion requires thought and consideration—and the inclusion of our customers at every step of the process. Human-centered design is the driving philosophy behind our work at Practice Fusion—we build experiences for people that empower them to make choices about patient care rather than feel controlled by the system itself. As we examine how to enhance the patient encounter, our focus is on improving the EHR user experience and by alleviating the burden of the technology thus providing more time for patient interaction. 

Starting in 2019, we engaged a wide range of customers in research to better understand their needs and desires when it comes to patient charting. As we experimented with and iterated on new designs, we reached out to customers for feedback to ensure that we were successfully translating what people need and want into a design that works.

Thanks to customer participation, the careful focus of our design and research team, and the commitment of the company to improving our EHR, we have begun work on a new Practice Fusion encounter experience. We have concentrated on improving these six areas of the encounter experience: 

  1. Making the encounter easier to read with less scrolling
  2. Separating patient information that needs to be referenced from information created during a patient visit
  3. Organizing the encounter in closer alignment with the flow of a patient visit
  4. Bringing more actions to the surface to reduce clicks
  5. Introducing more robust customization features
  6. Solving key usability issues within specific encounter sections

We are approaching this redesign in different phases. The first phase, released in March 2021, includes a handful of customer-requested changes focused on improving the ability to capture patient information. 

  • We have increased the character limits in three key patient encounter and summary areas: advanced directives, health concerns, and past medical history. Now you can add more information to those fields and be alerted when you have exceeded the new limits. 

  • We have added a new option for “Electronic cigarette use” to the Tobacco Use screening in the Social History section of the patient summary.     

The second phase, coming soon, will introduce the new encounter design with a new framework. Future phases will include the ability to customize chart notes and address usability issues with specific sections of the encounter note. 

We recognize the vital importance of the encounter in your day-to-day patient care and practice management. We want to ensure that you have all the tools you need to make the transition. Perhaps most importantly, when the new encounter is released, you will have the ability to “turn on” the new experience or flip back to the classic view for a period of time. This will let you adjust to the changes over time, and it will give us a chance to gather feedback so we can refine the experience. 

Recently, we hosted a webinar to share the new Encounter layout and feature improvements. To watch the recorded webinar, please click here.

Want to see more of the new Encounter? Click below to watch our new video.