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Implementing an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system takes a lot of planning, collaboration, and coordination. The EHR implementation process should be fleshed out at the start in order to reduce costs during implementation and maximize ROI after the rollout.

Read on to understand the steps to EHR implementation.

The Process of Implementing an EHR Implementation Plan

The EHR implementation process can be modular or step by step. An EHR system won’t have as much of an impact and will be harder to implement if you don’t adhere to a well thought-out plan. Hence, your EHR implementation project plan needs to take into account the general context for the system and the infrastructure that comprises it.

Listed below are the standard EHR implementation steps.

1. Set a clear roadmap for EHR implementation

Start with a full assessment of your facility and its ability to readiness to adopt EHR.  Find out if the available infrastructure, clinical processes, education, and training can support EHR implementation.

One of the causes of a botched EHR implementation is the failure by management to evaluate its needs from the outset. The planning process needs to involve high-level executives; in the planning phase, they will need to assess the current state of their medical practices and capabilities.

They will also need to clarify all the functions they would need in the EHR and the critical success metrics to assess after go-live.

2. Build an EHR implementation team

EHR system implementation is a critical exercise that needs strategic thinking planning, and negotiations between departments. There needs to be strong leadership to direct the project and quickly resolve complexities along the way.

Successful EHR implementation requires that you create a steering committee. In this EHR implementation plan template, the steering team comprises a project manager who might also be the practice manager, as well as an application analyst, application developer, QA test engineer,  physician advocate, nurse advocate, and billing advocate.

There should be free exchange of information between the team members throughout the implementation process.

 


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3. Define budget limits and projections

Many health centers invest a massive amount of resources into EHR only to get  lackluster ROI. Your system should aim to lower costs and increase the quality of healthcare services. $8,000 is the baseline annual budget for an EHR system according to the Michigan Center for Effective IT Adoption.

Whatever your current EHR budget projections, you can often expect to pay about $6,000 more  due to extra costs resulting from implementation, maintenance and security. However, a clearly defined budget can help you mitigate these as much as possible. Ensure that the budget includes:

  • System upgrades
  • Customization consultancy
  • Training fees
  • Cloud migration costs including backup and storage
  • Consultancy costs

4. Prepare the infrastructure

The information technology infrastructure for your EHR should incorporate robust security protocols and quick disaster recovery strategies to guarantee efficiency and high uptime. Its architecture should include components such as registries, interoperability, security, privacy, and safety.

The security measures need to be HIPPA compliant.  You can always work with an expert EHR vendor to help with Electronic Health Record software and security compliance.

Beyond software, you will also need to assess and implement your hardware needs. For this EHR implementation plan example, hardware preparation entails additional printer installation and supplying each staff member with the appropriate technology tools.

 

Read more About Deploying an EHR System

 

5. Transfer data

Once your infrastructure is ready, the next step when implementing a certified ehr software is data transfer from your legacy system.  Start by analyzing the best approach for patient and physician ease. Seamless data migration reduces clinical staff frustrations and improves user buy-in. To ease the data transfer process, consider:

  • Defining the migration parameters; what needs to be transferred and how large the backup should be
  • Training  data entry staff
  • Creating a workflow sheet for utmost clarity on data entry
  • Checking and double-checking that all information is inputted correctly
  • Storing the paper charts safely

6. Create EHR Training Sessions

At this stage, you must look at the training aspect of your EHR implementation in order to get your staff members to buy into the new EHR system. The training should thus be comprehensive and highlight the significant benefits of an EHR and how to implement an EHR.

These are the steps you can follow for the purpose:

  • Put together a highly skilled training team and designate super users that your staff members can reach out to in their departments
  • Create a training timeline with clearly set goals
  • Customize the training to users’ current skill levels; you may need to start from basic computer skills
  • Encourage staff to follow along in real-time for a practical experience

7. Testing and Planning for Go Live

This step is about testing the EHR in a real-like scenario before the live launch.

By this time, your staff should be well versed in the system and their roles. All essential data should have been migrated to the EHR. You should also have established workflow processes for each individual and department, including billing, clinical documentation, scheduling, and patient follow up.

During the testing, the implementation staff should be ready to find and address breakdowns before the live launch. On the actual launch day, consider lowering patient volume to address staff anxiety.  Inform clients about the launch and enlighten them about the EHR benefits to patients.

8. Post Go-Live Evaluation

The launch of your EHR system is just the beginning. There is a lot more testing, training, and evaluation to be done after the launch. It is essential to realize that EHR implementation is a continuous process that involves constant optimization and ongoing training.

After the launch, consider optimizing areas such as:

  • Patient satisfaction – aim to reduce frustrations after go-live
  • Productivity levels – ensure that your staff understands that the new EHR is meant to improve productivity; set reasonable expectations to keep them running
  • Perform ROI calculations to assess the profitability of the system
  • Analyze data error rates to determine input quality and whether there is a need for retraining
  • Focus on improving data collection, billing, reporting and operations

What Are the Benefits of EHR over Paper Charts?

There are many benefits of EHR systems over paper records, including:

  • Accessibility: The system can be accessed simultaneously by different people in multiple locations.
  • Multiple views: EHR offers different visualizations for user-specific needs
  • Improved communication: EHR facilitates a seamless exchange of information between various providers.
  • Benefits of EHR for patients: EHR can be linked with personal health records to improve communication with patents
  • Data aggregation: Groups and summaries can be created from large volumes of data
  • Access to knowledge bases: EHR provides access to knowledge bases when your team needs it

There are many benefits of EHR over paper charts. Its implementation is, however, a complex process marred with challenges including technical concerns, legal issues, change obstacles and staff buy-in.

Contact True North for help getting your EHR successfully implemented.