Unlocking the potential of EHR
By Tracy Huynh, Associate Director, Engagement Strategy
National attention and legislation around medical recordkeeping catalyzed Electronic Health Record (EHR) and Electronic Medical Record (EMR) adoption over the last decade. Today, 85.9% of office-based physicians use an EHR or EMR system and physicians spend an average of 10.25 hours weekly in EHRs entering in or reading patient data.1,2 EHR providers are beginning to take advantage of their data. Furthermore, new features, such as billing, e-prior authorizations, pricing and clinical decision support, make EHRs valued treatment decision tools for prescribers. For marketers, there are two types of EHR opportunities. First, marketers can uncover data insights by analyzing the wealth of data captured by an EHR system. Second, marketers can influence physicians at the point of care via workflow interventions. This article will explore whether EHR partnerships are right for your brand, what insights EHR data can offer, and four types of workflow interventions.
The electronic record landscape is highly fragmented. The terms EMR and EHR are often used interchangeably, but there are significant differences between the two systems. EMR systems solely focus on archiving patient’s clinical data. In contrast, EHR systems are designed to facilitate holistic care of the patient; therefore, they collect data from a range of stakeholders and offer features to clinical support tools, in additional to recordkeeping. We’ll focus on EHRs. Over two thousand EHR systems are in use today.3 Specialty, practice size, treatment setting, and conditions treated are among the factors moderating platform use. Additionally, media, messaging, and analytics capabilities vary greatly across platforms. 4 Furthermore, different players offer different EHR-related services and brands can partner with any one of these stakeholders.
Despite the complexity of the landscape, brands can quickly determine which opportunity is right for them in a few steps. Marketers must start with their brand, understand their audience, then assess relevant platforms to decide if EHR offerings are worth pursuing.
First, revisit your marketing objectives. EHRs are primed to raise brand (and support program) awareness at the point of care. EHR messaging can influence mid- lower-funnel behaviors, such as diagnostic and treatment decisions. However, since users in the system are task-focused, EHRs are not appropriate for driving click-throughs and consideration objectives. Brands marketing to consumers can benefit from EHR analyses on the patient journey. Additionally, brands looking to expand access can use prescribing data and patient-reported outcomes via patient portals to support health economic outcomes research.
Contact EHR players to assess their market reach and request a proposal. Like any media publisher, players can list matches against a target list or provide other relevant counts, such as the number of physicians in a specialty, prescriptions written for your brand/competitor brand, or patients diagnosed with a certain condition.
For workflow interventions, define targeting criteria: Target capabilities may differ between partners and even within a partner depending on the service selected. In addition to list matching, EHRs can target physicians within the diagnostic and treatment workstream using diagnostic ICD-10 and service CPT codes.
EHRs can uncover rich insights around diagnosis and prescribing. Brands can purchase real-word EHR data, stripped of identifying patient data, for their own analysis, or purchase access to a self-service platform where analyses can be conducted with user-friendly graphical interfaces. Platforms typically offer structured data (eg, diagnosis codes used, lab results, etc), though unstructured data may be available depending on the partner (eg, qualitative call notes). Data can inform commercial or clinical trial initiatives. For example, EHR data can help life science brands:
- Understand the doctor’s clinical workflow and the patient journey
- Conduct retrospective and prospective analyses to understand the market
- Run Health Economics Outcomes Research (HEOR) studies to assess the real-world economic impact of their brands
EHR systems offer marketers a spectrum of workflow intervention tactics with varying levels of integration or prominence in the workflow.
- Custom messaging is the broadest tactic. It includes text announcements and banner ads that appear in the periphery of the EHR user interface. While it’s possible to simply repurpose display ads for EHRs, not all messages are suited for the medium. Physicians using EHRs are highly task-oriented and have little tolerance for heavy promotional messaging. We recommend messages that are short and sweet and complement the clinical workflow. For example:
- Light promotional messages: Simple brand reminder ads
- Treatment updates: New formulations or codes
- Access tips: Information on coverage, HUB services, and formulary
Brands can also send targeted information on patient education and access resources. Brands can make their financial support offerings visible as physicians browse treatment offers. Further downstream, brands can automatically apply copay offers after a physician prescribes a medication. Partners with patient portal integrations can automate the delivery of savings or treatment information to patients upon prescribing
Drug file integration refers to the process of getting a product integrated into EHR systems. Select aggregators partners can help brands track which EHRs have integrated their product and work with EHR vendors to troubleshoot integration
Clinical decision support are aids in the EHR interface that offer physicians information to guide their diagnosing and prescribing decisions, such as alerts on clinical guidelines
Modifying messages to suit the medium is essential to the success of EHR ads. With limited attention spans and real estate, ads should be:
- Direct and very brief to get the message across quicker
- Designed to ensure ads are eye-catching from the periphery of the EHR interface
- Refreshed often to reduce the risk of creative burnout—consider templating ads
Evoke offers insights and best practices for partnering with EHR systems. To see if EHR opportunities are a fit for your brand, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 1. Myrick KL, Ogburn DF, Ward BW. Table. Percentage of office-based physicians using any electronic health record (EHR)/electronic medical record (EMR) system and physicians that have a certified EHR/EMR system, by U.S. state: National Electronic Health Records Survey, 2017. National Center for Health Statistics. January 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nehrs/2017_NEHRS_Web_Table_EHR_State.pdf
- 2. Kantar Media (2020). Sources and Interactions, Medical/Surgical. N = 3200.
- 3. McGauley, James (2019). The Multibillion Dollar Consequences of Fragmented Healthcare Information Systems. https://www.chiefhealthcareexecutive.com/view/consequences-of-fragmented-healthcare-information-systems
- 4. Cerner slips 2nd year but holds dominance alongside Epic for EHR market share (2021). Jackie Drees. https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/ehrs/cerner-slips-2nd-year-but-holdsdominance-alongside-epic-for-ehr-market-share.html