Health care organizations need an efficient way to process and share care delivery information to increase productivity, deliver better quality care, save money and ensure compliance.
Properly implemented EHR’s can deliver on this promise and provide most benefits associated with adopting digital technology.
- Are you ready?
It comes as no surprise that technology continues to be an increasingly prominent part of our society. Technological advancement isn’t going anywhere, but does this mean your organization needs it? Determining whether or not your practice is ready for EHR is the first step toward reaping all the benefits that information technology provides. Get together with business leaders, managers, and other key stake holders to determine, infrastructure, people, technology and investment challenges that comes with this change. Carefully consider whether or not implementing an EHR would be a step toward reaching or exceeding your business goals and strategy.
- Be honest about your current status
Before implementing the new system, you must have a clear understanding of where you and your team stand. Do you have a proper infrastructure (internet, computers, printers, scanners etc.)? Does your team run efficiently? Are there any clinical or administrative process that are creating bottleneck. How information , and documentation are currently organized and processed? Is the staff proficient with computers? Are they willing and able to learn? These are important questions to assess your readiness for a successful EHR implementation. Be sure to be critical, honest, and true; inaccurate assessments will only hinder your team’s progress.
- Set goals
Goal setting is almost always a constructive pursuit, and when setting goals for your team it is crucial to consider what factors will drive EHR success. Goals should be relevant, specific, measurable, achievable, and deadline oriented. Work with members to brainstorm a set of realistic and attainable goals with a time limit and budget to achieve them. If you haven’t already, assess and fully understand the time needed to complete tasks and work with team members to set standards and requirements. Determine what actions are benefiting your organization and those that are not; identify processes that can be improved and work with your team to strategize and redesign standard operating procedures.
- Assign roles
Delegating clear positions and responsibilities to allow for a smooth and productive transition. Be certain that those in charge fully understand why changes are being made and have the resources and time available to affect such change. Having clear objectives established will help drive the team ownership and productivity. Ensure that team members understand their duties, how to best execute them, and who they can reach out to for assistance, questions, and collaboration. Communication is key in any group environment, especially one undergoing significant change.
- Find the best tools for your organization
Tools are only as useful as you make them. Expand your perceptions and be fully aware of all available resources. Your Regional Extension Center (REC), IT and EHR vendors should be able to provide you with the tools necessary to ensure smooth transition.
- Consider cost
$12,000 is the average cost of an EHR system. This includes software, hosting, maintenance, support and upgrades. Connecting with health information exchange (HIE), customized reports, and premium features may be more. Before jumping in, consult a legal or financial counsel to determine costs and contract terms. Medical associations provide many open source templates and check lists to help.
- Pick a certified EHR
It is helpful to pick an EHR that will customize to support the way your organization runs and help achieve your objectives quicker. Take careful consideration of other products such as practice management software, patient portal, text messaging, business intelligence tools, and public health interfaces.
- Implement and train
Designate a leader to manage the transition and work closely with them to create a clear plan. Figure out what technological elements will be needed in converting data and paper charts into your new EHR, and what sorts of limitations you may encounter. Consider the value of information such as patient demographics, insurance and appointments. Familiarize yourself with how HIPPA and business associate regulations will impact your patient services process. In evaluating your current and future workflows, be sure to create a back-up plan for problems that you might come across.
- Revise and improve
During and after implementation, meet your team and consider whether or not your goals have been met. If so, is there a way to improve efficiency? Do not overlook the need for further training, as efficiency can be compromised if you don’t know how the new system works especially short cuts. Adjustments often do not go as planned, continuous evaluation will help reassure the team and fix problematic issues.