The adoption of an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system is a multi-step procedure. To plan a successful system transition, a medical practice must prepare strategically. On average, it takes approximately 8 to 12 months to successfully implement a new EHR software, but the transition time entirely depends upon the strategic planning. A good plan can certainly save hours of work and effort for every member on your team.

Here’s a comprehensive guide to facilitate successful EHR implementation in a medical practice using some simple steps.

1. Build an EHR Implementation Roadmap

The first step in implementing an EHR system is to outline the major tasks and procedures that need effective execution by your team members including IT staff, physicians, practice managers, nurses, medical assistants, etc. The key tasks will be:

  • Enlist your implementation team from stakeholder groups
  • Outline your costs and define the total budget for implementation
  • Check your software for HIPAA Compliance
  • Transfer of patient and practice data from record systems
  • Develop a training program for users
  • Decide on what to do when your EHR system is down
  • Define and state your go-live tasks
  • Point out critical success aspects and evaluation strategies

2. Build your Electronic Health Record Implementation Team

After defining your implementation tasks, you need to recruit people to perform each task according to your schedule and budget. A strategic team will help drive your implementation process smoothly. The team will include members including administrative staff, physicians, medical assistants, and nurses. Each team member will add to the implementation process by passing on their EHR skills and identifying implementation challenges along the way.
The following team members can be sourced to run the implementation process effectively:

  • Project Manager – responsible for managing the implementation team
  • Application Developer – responsible for customization of a system
  • QA Test Engineer – responsible for the performance and system testing
  • Application Analyst – responsible for data transferring
  • Nurse Advocate – representative of nurses
  • Physician Advocate – representative of physicians and advice on training
  • Billing Advocate – representative of the billing department and advise on data and testing
  • Meaningful-Use Manager – needed if MU attestation is required
  • Super-Users – the initial adopters for training programs

3. Define your Budget and Predict EHR Implementation Costs

Following elements are mandatory to consider when defining a budget for an EHR implementation:

  • Practice staff and temporary staff
  • Productivity loss (often estimated as high as 50% reductions)
  • Hardware and network upgrades
  • Customization service from the EHR vendor
  • Other Consultancy costs
  • Vendor training expenses
  • Data backups and storage along with cloud EHR costs

According to a recent EHR report, most medical practices spend about $6,200 per user of their EHR software. Healthcare practices can keep this figure in their mind when deciding on their EHR implementation budget.

4. Analyze your Software

After you are done with defining your budget, make sure your software is HIPAA Compliant. Your healthcare organization may also need to get through a HIPAA risk assessment. Your health IT vendor can help you identify if your software is compliant.

5. Transfer Patient Data

Now comes the step of transferring patient and practice data. For this, you need to sort out the ways for migrating your data from your record systems to the new EHR. You can perform this task in a variety of ways such as assigning this task to the existing staff or hiring additional staff to upload information into the new EHR system.
Key aspects of EHR data migration include:

  • Converting the paper records into electronic records
  • EHR database setup
  • Data management and verification
  • Mapping legacy data to new databases
  • Migrating information to the new system
  • Testing new data inputs
  • Testing and verification of legacy data

6. Develop a Sustainable User Training Program

Now that you are done with transferring data, deigning an interactive training program for users can have a significant impact on the final ROI of your system.
Good training programs offer:

  • Program advocates
  • Coherent communication channels
  • Vendor support teams
  • Role-based training for proper relevancy
  • Stable feedback options to keep users connected with project management

7. Be Prepared when your EHR system is down

We cannot dismiss the probability of inaccuracies when technology is involved, so medical practices must be prepared to tackle occasional glitches. A solid backup plan can help you solve potential problems.

Some of the instances include power shut down, system-wide malfunction, etc. To deal with such issues, you will require strategic procedures that assist physicians and staff to manage the regular tasks when the EHR is unavailable.

Considering the following aspects to create strategic procedures:

  • How to notify staff and physicians in the case of downtime?
  • How to keep the patient-care flow from being disrupted?
  • How to ensure patient check-in despite the downtime?
  • How to assist physicians and staff document the visit?

In addition to the electronic procedures, availability of paper procedures can help to tackle the EHR downtime.

8. Define your “go-live” tasks

The next step in your EHR implementation process is pointing out the necessary activities around your go-live day. This includes:

  • Pre and Post system testing process
  • Comprehensive communication guidelines for patients (also includes the expected downtime)
  • Recruitment or scheduling of overtime or temporary staff
  • System reporting procedure and project evaluation
  • Alteration of appointments and schedules
  • Network speed and reliability analysis
  • Effective communications on noticeboards etc.
  • Data Backup and Recovery
9. Evaluate Critical Success Factors

Once you have surpassed the go-live stage, evaluate the critical success factors for your EHR implementation. But how can you do that?
You can evaluate your EHR implementation in numerous ways but the most suitable one for your practice relies on your practice goals:You can evaluate your EHR implementation in numerous ways but the most suitable one for your practice relies on your practice goals:

  • Calculate your organization’s ROI to determine profitability
  • Asses patient satisfaction rate through a survey to check the quality of care
  • Keep a record of patient throughput to find out the efficiency
  • Find out the physician satisfaction rate to evaluate user training
  • Determine the data error rates to asses quality

If you are looking to implement your EHR in the best possible way, then this comprehensive guide will facilitate your process like no other!

Recommended Posts