The adoption of EHRs by U.S. practices has been slow, despite the perceived benefits of their use. This is because of a number of barriers, including resistance to change, initial difficulty in implementing a new system, and lack of knowledge to plan a successful system transition. On average, a public health department takes approximately 8 to 12 months to implement a new electronic health records software system into their office. But, while many organizations take less time to do the same job, the transition time depends on strategic preparation and planning. This blog post is a comprehensive “field guide” to facilitate the successful implementation of an EHR in any medical practice easily.
6 Steps to Successfully Implementation an EHR into your Practice
Getting Things Ready
Being ready to move forward is the first and most crucial step in the implementation of an electronic health records into your practice. It will take significant time to prepare and document the complete plan of transition. First, you must know the reasons why you’re leaving the current EHR system, or why you need to use EHR software instead of paper charting. Make sure to allocate sufficient time to identify the required things for this transition process. Moving to a new EHR software is a complex project so make sure to assign appropriate resources for the job. Remember to document everything along the way, too, as it will be your road-map during the transition process.
Identify Your Needs
Why are you moving away from traditional paper charting? And what are your expectations for the new system? Are you hoping to receive Meaningful Use incentives? These are some of the most important questions to consider and you should think about the answers to them before moving to the next step. It would also be wise to allocate a tech-savvy project manager for this job, so that he or she can be responsible for identifying your practice’s needs and make recommendations as to the most appropriate EHRs in the next step. The needs of every practice are unique and they have their own workflow, which is why one electronic health record software system isn’t a perfect fit for all medical practices. So it is wise to audit your own practice yourself to identify your core requirements. You can also categorize these requirements into different groups as to their priority which will help you choose the best electronic health record software available on the market for your practice.
Research the Best Available EHRs on the Market
Now it’s time to research the most suitable EHRs available on the market to fulfill your identified needs. You can check those available by simply searching on the internet, or you can also ask your fellow colleagues to recommend their favorite EHR as well. Make a list of all the available options and take notes of their unique features, services, cost etc. to find the most suitable electronic health record software for your practice. You might also want to write down questions or custom requests that you want to ask or discuss with EHR vendors while you’re vetting them.
Schedule Demos for Final Selection of Best EHR
No doubt, selecting an EHR software is the most crucial step of this whole process. But first, you need to schedule demos with all the EHR vendors that you shortlisted in the 3rd step. Allow as many staff members to attend these demos so diverse opinions will help lead you to the right decision. Set up specific scenarios, questions and custom requests that you need in your practice, ask the same questions from all the vendors and then use a decision matrix to rank your top selection. Consider what is included in each quote to make sure there won’t be any hidden charges. Ask the vendor for references and check them out to analyze the real-time performance. Make sure to see the system live before any commitment. Discuss the complete transition process in detail to avoid any unexpected hassles, or you can also test run the process on demo data.
Implementation & Transition
During the implementation step, your vendor should be onsite to handle any unforeseen situations. Allocate the right resources to monitor the transition process and act upon the plan step-by-step. Audit your workflow where necessary and understand any modifications that might be required to move forward. After the transition, make sure your staff has enough training so they can use the system independently.
Explore to Improve
During the first few months, explore your EHR to find the most useful features and best practices so you can fully utilize this new system to optimize the performance of your practice. You should also take advantage of ongoing training sessions by the EHR vendor and expect reliable customer support whenever it’s needed.
Switching to a new EHR system is an extensive undertaking but with right tools and a proper plan, you can make the complete process simple. Follow this guide step-by-step as described for a successful EHR implementation.