As medical practices tackle EHR implementation, it’s normal to hit some snags along the way. The problem is when a practice gets off to a bad start with EHR implementation, it can risk complicating the entire experience for staff and patients for years to come.
Successful EHR Implementation is a time-intensive but rewarding effort that improves the overall quality and continuity of care. That’s why it pays to take things slow and do plenty of research ahead of time. Here are some implementation best practices to get the most out of your system and services.
Implementation Is a Process, Not A Destination
One of the single biggest factors, when it comes to understanding successful electronic health record implementation, is that it’s a lengthy process that’ll be ongoing, even long after you’ve made the official switch. Since it is technology-based, updates and refreshes on your system will be necessary over time. Just like you wouldn’t use the same smartphone or tablet for a decade, getting the most out of your EHR platform means necessary upgrades and tweaks as years pass to improve the benefits for staff and patients.
Don’t Rush into Anything
A new EHR software platform isn’t something you’ll want to select overnight. Instead, it’s best to take a fair amount of time to research the best systems that suit your practice. Consider, for instance, whether or not you want to customize your solution. So you don’t delay the process too much, however, plot out your implementation framework and set a timeline to stay on track.
Focus on Needs
Involving as many members of staff as possible in the search for an EHR system helps narrow down options and vendors that best suits the needs of your practice. It can also help you identify the top technologies used in the development and implementation of the EHR. You won’t be able to please everyone, but if you can determine a handful of specific ways EHR software will be most effective within your practice, it’ll help refine your criteria and select a winning system.
Get Everyone on Board
Getting staff invested in onboard implementation will make a huge difference. A study by the Commonwealth Fund on implementing EHR found that acquiring proper staff and physician buy-in was critical to a successful EHR implementation. Physicians, in particular, will have some questions and anxieties about the transformation of their daily activities with the introduction of an EHR. Finding the right in-house advocacy leaders and “super users”— experts on the system being implemented— to win over skeptics will make things a lot easier.
Provide Extensive Training
Investing heavily in intensive education that involves all administrative staff and physicians is a must. This training needs to be thorough and mandatory, as the EHR will not be running itself. It’s wise to expect an initial drop in productivity once the new system is implemented, as everyone will be adjusting to new procedures, but that should rebound dramatically as the EHR extends its efficiencies throughout the practice over time. Don’t forget that new employees will also need to undergo training and that the program must be refreshed as the EHR is updated.
If all this seems too daunting, consider hiring an outside consultant to assist with EHR implementation/adoption best practices. Whatever path you choose, make sure your steps are thoughtful throughout, as EHR implementation is a big process and it’s important to get things right the first time.