How to Avoid EHR Implementation Mistakes
Has your practice recently adopted an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system? Or have you been shopping around for a new EHR and think you’ve settled on the perfect one? If so, congratulations! It’s a significant investment that you’re making, but one that ought to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your patient care; that is, as long as you avoid certain pitfalls during the implementation process.
Your job is not done once you’ve selected a new EHR system, sadly. Proper deployment is key to your new record keeping method’s success.
First things first, leadership is key when rolling out new systems in an office, especially one that will be used as frequently as an EHR. Irresolutely announcing a drastic change in software and workflow may lead to adoption resistance from your staff. People generally dislike change, it makes them uncomfortable. So when you do have them change the way they work, be sure to state your reasoning clearly. The new EHR is not intended to make their lives difficult, it’s intended to improve workplace efficiency and data collection to improve the experience of the staff and the patient. Believe in your new product, show your support for it. And also don’t just dump it on your office and disappear. There will be a period of learning and you should remain supportive and available during that time. Take feedback, too, because in the end the product doesn’t work if it isn’t actually improving the workflow of your staff.
If you are a practice owner, you may wish to delegate the EHR implementation process to an IT specialist or another staff member. Perhaps this really isn’t your area of expertise, or you consider your time too valuable for such tasks. While this is a viable strategy, you have to be extra careful that your delegate can command the same type of leadership described earlier. They won’t have the inherent respect that comes from being “the boss,” so you’ll have to be sure that their communication is effective and that they are available and responsive throughout the process. Even if software is not your cup of tea, your confidence, alone, can go a long way towards putting your staff at ease. So even if you do delegate, be sure not to hide in the shadows. Show your support!
Following initial roll-out, you’re going to need a comprehensive training strategy. Even switching between similar EHR’s will have some kind of learning curve. You want to ensure your new employees are comfortable with the software and hardware changes, and that they are aware of all the useful features and how to use them. It’s worth your investment to offer live training sessions, if you supplier or a 3rd party will offer it. Training modules can also be an effective tool, as they allow your staff the flexibility to learn when they want. Remember, your office is still going to be trying to manage their day-to-day tasks, so it’s best to minimize the stress on them when it comes to training. Show them the way and you’ll achieve optimal workflow efficiency faster.
Lastly, don’t forget to persevere. This ties back in to the leadership discussion. Change will inevitably be met with resistance at first, but hopefully you did your research on this new EHR and you truly believe it will improve the quality of care your office provides. Follow through and offer your encouragement along the way.
This is not to be confused with stubbornness, however. Keep tabs on how the new EHR implementation is progressing, both from an employee acceptance standpoint and from a quantitative perspective (i.e. Your patient throughput may have dropped initially, but is picking back up over time? Are the employees getting more efficient and spending less time fussing with the system as time goes on?). If you’re trial period has gone on for a few weeks without improvement, you may need to make the difficult decision to cut your losses and try again. Just be sure you gave the EHR a fair shake, and follow through on that decision with confidence, as well.
We’re sure you invested quite a bit on your new EHR system, so do your best to make sure it’s a success! If you’re interested in additional EHR implementation advice, consider reading our next blog, EHR Implementation Mistakes to Avoid, Part 2 or download our comprehensive guide.