EHR Technology – Best Practices to Insure Effective EHR ImplementationNovember 21, 2011
The movement to transition the United States healthcare system from paper based patient medical records to electronic medical records (EHR) continues to grow at a steady pace. As more private and public medical practices, hospitals and clinics make the leap to implement EHR technology or upgrade their existing EHR platforms, the more knowledge is gained around effective EHR implementation strategies.
Let’s face it, change is a hard thing to embrace. But when you add the complexities of federal healthcare regulations and compliance requirements to the mix, EHR adoption and implementation for many is still viewed as a near impossible task. Essentially, many view making this step as not being worth the hassle regardless of how big the government incentive or disincentive. Even the potential negative financial impact for those providers and medical facilities that choose not implement EHR technology and achieve Meaningful Use is not moving decision makers to action.
To help medical practices and facilities avoid the most prevalent EHR implementation mistakes, consider the following five best practices that work for any size practice:
1) Prepare for the challenge to successfully implement an EHR. The process to implement the technology will bring stress and anxiety to everyone involved over a period of several months. EHR systems are very sophisticated and full of features and functionality that will bring efficiency to workflows, but it is impossible to take advantage of its full capability in first few weeks after going live. Be patient and make sure your EHR vendor develops a robust implementation plan free of any shortcuts.
2) Embrace change as an opportunity to evaluate and improve the physician and patient workflows of your practice. Most medical practices have yet to optimize the day-to-day processes of the operation. Leverage EHR implementation as an opportunity to discover new efficiencies in your workflow. A perception exists with many physicians and practice administrators that EHR technology serves as a catalyst to solve issues in workflow. In fact, the opposite is true – EHR technology will only make existing workflow problems more severe.
3) Training, training, and more training. Operating a medical practice is complicated – Especially, when you step back and think about the necessary compliance tasks, proper coding, and patient documentation required. Also, consider the fact that different people learn and grasp new concepts in different ways. Don’t allow the EHR vendor you select to convince you that an EHR conversion is as easy as plug and play. To insure everyone on the team is ready, schedule time outside of operating hours and have your team practice scenarios on the EHR platform that will take place when you go live. Yes, you will most likely have to budget for additional labor costs, but the return on investment will make any additional expense worth it. One last note, assign an EHR champion or champions to coach and check on teammates at thirty, sixty, and ninety days post your go-live day. This best practice will go a long way to support those teammates that need additional help and aid in capturing ideas to further improve workflows.
4) Don’t leave out your nursing staff from participating in the EHR selection process. Physicians are either the owners, practice leaders, or the key decision makers, but they are not exclusive users of the EHR. In fact, a recent study found that nurses account for almost seventy-five percent of the use of the patient chart, while physicians complete the remaining twenty-five percent. You will know you are on the right path towards a successful EHR implementation when nurses are consistently assisting the physician during the integration of the EHR into clinical workflows.
5) Recognize that physicians do not all practice medicine the same way. The absolute worst thing a practice can do is force all physicians to use the system in the same manner. The good thing is that most EHR systems provide several ways to accomplish the same task. While this fact may add to the complexity of training, the benefit is that each physician will have the opportunity to choose which approach will work best for them and their style. Taking this approach will help with coping with the stress that comes with change resulting in faster physician adoption and buy-in.
Leveraging these best practices will dramatically improve your chances of experiencing a rewarding and highly successful EHR implementation.
Frank J.Rosello is CEO & Co-Founder of Environmental Intelligence LLC.
Environmental Intelligence LLC is a Complete Outsourced Health IT Company providing End-to-End meaningful physician workflows consulting, integration, and implementation in (EHR) Electronic Health Records and Practice Management to private and public medical practices and facilities differentiated by our experienced, physician driven administrative staff and dedicated IT team.
To learn more about our Physician Focused – Patient Driven approach to EHR & Health IT Visit our website: www.goeillc.com