We speak with a lot of physicians who are thinking about buying or are in the process of implementing an electronic health record (EHR) solution. A decision to implement an EHR is not just about technology, but about introducing important decision-making and change in a practice to gain maximum benefits. We have compiled a list of key tips that will help your practice approach the EHR evaluation, purchase and implementation process, ensuring you quickly derive the benefits of having this essential solution and achieve meaningful use quickly and painlessly. Your EHR should help you be more efficient, gain business intelligence, improve patient care, increase practice revenue, and qualify for federal incentives. The EHR should act as the clinical nerve center of your practice and facilitate the accurate exchange of patient information.
We suggest starting with a road map that addresses your practice’s particular needs, anticipates unforeseen missteps and clearly defines success metrics. These are the elements you should consider to build a successful EHR road map:
1. Articulate a strong vision. Carefully consider your practice’s needs, patient population and workflow. Communicating your vision is especially important if an external consultant assists with the selection and purchase decisions for your EHR.
2. Get strategic buy-in from staff. Understand how members of your staff will use the EHR. Encourage them to participate in the research and decision-making process by establishing a Product Selection Steering Committee, through which stakeholder representatives can discuss EHR goals and objectives. Identify an EHR evangelist in the organization.
3. Develop an implementation timeline. Set measurable goals around implementation timelines and adoption as a team. Monitor the timeline closely and adjust as necessary.
4. Establish an implementation budget. Your organization should ensure that all aspects of your EHR implementation are fully accounted for and funded.
5. Mitigate unexpected or hidden costs. Implementation, training and upgrade costs are likely to pop up during the process. Be sure to understand and anticipate all costs associated with the selection, implementation and maintenance of your EHR.
6. Create a strategic, measureable plan for success. Establish a long-term plan to validate the benefits of the EHR. Tackle issues before they become pain points.
7. Define clear roles for rollout. All staff needs to participate and have an ownership stake in your EHR implementation success. Form an Implementation Team of internal stakeholders to help with the rollout.
8. Train the clinical support staff to be the primary users, Ensure clinical staff is skilled in all key EHR functionality. The EHR will empower your clinical support staff to deliver the right information at the point of care.
9. Establish a feedback loop. Encourage all stakeholders to participate in discussions around how to adapt your EHR to increase adoption and drive efficiencies for your practice. Creating feedback loops is essential for tracking progress and navigating around roadblocks as a team.
10. Be flexible. Develop a quarterly adoption report, review goal progress and design actionable next steps based on your timeline.
11. Celebrate your successes. Benchmark progress and boost practice morale by sharing big wins as you meet the goals set in step 6.
As with any new technology, EHR selection and implementation can be overwhelming. If you break up the process into manageable steps and encourage buy-in from the clinical support staff, you can ensure a smooth implementation process for your practice. For more expert tips on how to successfully implement an EHR solution, download this free white paper.
Tim Liddell (Vice President, Deployment)
Betsy Cross (Director, Deployment)