Many practices have been tempted to make a quick switch to a new EHR that promises faster record-keeping, less training, or improved interoperability; yet this decision deserves a strategic process in place before rushing into implementing a new EHR.
Practices can’t afford to have sustained productivity loss, nor can they afford to make implementation mistakes that result in abandoning an EMR system.
Here I’d like to go over some of the mistakes we’ve heard or witnessed and how to avoid them in your office.
Challenges Implementing Electronic Health Records
Failure to Delegate Leadership: Not taking the leadership role seriously or delegating to the wrong person can have disastrous results. A staff member doesn’t necessarily possess the perspective or knowledge to make this decision. This decision should be made by a diverse team of experienced staff; the team should include a physician, a head nurse, a super user, an operations team member, a back-office staff member, and a technical member of your IT department.
This team needs to be dedicated to following through on the whole process of selecting a new EHR, not merely the initial discovery and decision phases. This process could take six months or longer by the time implementation and training are complete. Ensure that your selection committee is able to dedicate this amount of time to completing this task.
Read More About EHR Implementation Issues
- Why Doctors Aren’t Happy Using Your EHR System
- EHR Performance – Your Number 1 Patient Care Concern
- Top 7 EHR Usability Issues of 2018
Failure to Determine Your Practice’s Goals: Most offices begin the search by saying, “I must have X, Y, and Z in an EHR.” This is an incorrect approach which focuses too much on features. Instead, ask yourself and your team, “what are the practice’s short and long-term goals and how can an EHR contribute to meeting those goals?” Most EHR vendors now are offering virtually identical features and it is very easy to get overloaded with the latest and greatest assets of each. A swanky new feature may appear necessary on the surface, but if your practice is trying to cut down on log-in times, these will be of little benefit to you.
A feature is something that could be important to you, however a vendor is going to make it seem like it’s the most important thing to you and your office. Don’t be persuaded by EHR features unless they are something that convincingly solves a known issue. Instead, take time to make a list of goals for your office and share those with potential vendors. Ask them to help you understand how their software will help you. Comparing their answers may help make your decision.
Not Assessing Software and Hardware Needs: In a rollout plan, one must first work with their IT vendor to configure your new EHR to meet your appropriate security measures. This may require that you first conduct a HIPAA risk assessment or security audit to determine the level of protection currently installed on your system.
There are elements external to the EHR that will still interact with the EHR such as: demographics imported from the practice management system (PM), computerized order entry (COE), specialty or physicians-specific templates, billing/chargemaster.
Hardware needs should also be assessed during this process. The right hardware can save an organization time and money. Some clinics find that a printer in every room saves 30 minutes of a physician’s time per day. Another study found that an extra-large monitor saves an average of 20 minutes per physician per day.
9 things you can check in 5 minutes to see if your EHR is underperforming
Not Creating to or Sticking to an Implementation Rollout Plan: Once you’ve decided on a vendor there are many ways to begin implementing their software and each practice deserves their own unique approach. The biggest contributor to performance success is training. Proper training of physicians and staff is essential for using software systems correctly. It can also help explore reasons for currently inefficient processes and expose weaknesses in employee training or skill sets.
Initially most users will have a negative response to change and the introduction of a new EMR. Making the system available in a test environment for all employees to begin practicing long before the go-live sate will allow users to practice at their own pace and develop skills over time.
One effective first step in the planning process is for the team to segment tasks into three categories: What new work tasks are we going to start doing? What work tasks are we going to stop doing? What work tasks are we going to sustain?
The stop/start/sustain exercise helps clarify what the new work environment will be like after the change and helps the team prioritize tasks in the overall EHR implementation plan.
In addition to online resources like the AMA EHR Implementation Guide, having a few strategically placed consultants throughout this process can make all the difference. As an IT managed service provider, we are asked continuously by our clients to assist in this process. We have workflow engineers and EHR specialists from many of the top EHR vendors who now work for our company. They can provide an unparalleled level of expertise to your practice when making this important decision.
Trying to Improve the Performance of your EHR? Don’t Rush to Replace it.