Physician Partners' Journey to a Custom EHR

Physician Partners is an outcomes-based primary care collective serving Medicare patients 65+. We helped them reach over 300,000 patients and counting.

Physician Partners is an outcomes-based primary care collective serving Medicare patients 65+. With more than 30 offices and ambitious goals for rapid expansion, the need to create an underlying collection of unified tools/applications that eliminates waste, reduces friction, and supports the growth plan is critical.Through human-centered design and research, we identified key pain points and areas of waste that exist in the current system so that we can create a system that supports both the desired business and patient outcomes.

Challenges Identified by Physician Partners team:

The Physician Partners team faced several significant challenges with their current EHR system. Firstly, the existing EHR was originally designed to support a fee-for-service model and did not prioritize health outcomes, which misaligned with the collective's goals. Additionally, the system lacked efficiency, often requiring multiple clicks to perform essential tasks, leading to operational inefficiencies. Furthermore, it failed to emphasize crucial health outcomes data or encourage behaviors aimed at improving them. Compliance with MEAT regulations, managing advance directives, annual re-coding of illnesses, and the absence of appointment transcripts posed additional hurdles. The system's lack of intuitiveness demanded extensive training, and the resulting complexity contributed to a high employee turnover rate.

Challenges uncovered by SB team:

The SB team identified several challenges within the Physician Partners organization. Firstly, they observed the use of multiple specialized tools that were not integrated, resulting in redundancies and the segregation of information into silos. Employees had resorted to creating workarounds to address issues caused by the system, leading to delays in accessing crucial information. The inconsistency in employee onboarding and training further exacerbated the situation. Additionally, there were multiple approaches to completing tasks within the EHR system, leading to variations in workflows across different employees and clinics. Lastly, communication between employees and Anion presented its own set of challenges that needed to be addressed.


In approaching the Physician Partners project, our initial steps involved gaining a deeper comprehension of our users and the context in which they operate. This encompassed clinic visits, competitive research, observational studies, as well as interviews with stakeholders and subject matter experts. Additionally, focus group interviews were conducted to further refine our insights.Our process incorporated a range of diverging and converging exercises to arrive at well-informed solutions. These included the development of personas, collaborative whiteboarding sessions, creation of service blueprints, establishment of information architecture and site maps, mapping patient journeys, constructing user decision maps, and organizing insights through sticky note sorting. Through these comprehensive steps and rigorous analysis, we were able to identify key pain points and challenges within the Physician Partners' ecosystem, setting the stage for strategic improvements and solutions.


The impact of our efforts at Physician Partners is clear in the significant enhancements achieved. We recognized that user customization would no longer be necessary with a system designed around straightforward, guided workflows tailored to the specific needs of each persona group. By systematically eliminating waste and redundancies within the EHR, we successfully established streamlined processes for every user, resulting in a more efficient and user-friendly system.

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