EHR implementation in the United States is expected to bring many significant benefits, primarily excellent care co-ordination and improved healthcare services. The ease of access the system would ensure is appealing to other entities such as attorneys handling medical litigation and the medical record retrieval companies assisting them in gathering the required medical records. However, many healthcare organizations are seen struggling to maximize ROI in their EHR, and even switching vendors in an effort of finding a better EHR system. It is true that implementation of the electronic medical record will transform healthcare organizations in many ways. Before going live with the EHR, there are certain important steps that every healthcare organization must take to ensure that all end users are prepared for the transition. A carefully planned execution with the appropriate support is vital to gain maximum advantage from the EHR.
What are the key considerations to ensure a successful EHR go-live?
- Consider your staffing needs: Consider what the required roles entail and when it is appropriate to bring resources in-site. It is best to involve your HR in the EHR transition support recruiting process at an early stage itself. Be clear about what the organization is looking for. Let HR resources learn about the new technology and what the different migration support roles entail so that high-quality talent can be recruited.
- Evaluate your readiness for the transition: Assessing your preparedness for the EHR transition with the help of an advisory team will help you determine whether or not your organization is ready for the major upcoming changes.
- Communicate well within your organization: Vital information must be shared among all concerned staff and team members. To share status, successes, critical/important issues and the review of tip sheets, daily shift change and town hall meetings may be necessary. Information exchange will help avoid issues such as duplicate logging of known issues and corresponding prescribed resolutions or workarounds.
- Support your clinicians: Clinicians may want to know the need for EHR training. It is important to accurately determine how to train your clinicians on EHR functionality they are required to use, and how best to provide that training.
- Combine clinician and non-clinician support: Consider having a combination of clinicians and non-clinicians to support the staff during the tedious transition process.
- Have a personalization lab: This signifies a real-time approach to training wherein clinicians can ask questions in a low-anxiety, no stress environment. This will enable clinicians to more easily adapt to the system.
- Set realistic goals for productivity after the go-live: You must be open with your staff regarding the productivity expected post go-live, as well as the financial implications following the go-live. Monitoring productivity after the go-live will help to identify staff that may need more training.
- Define minimum requirements: This will help prevent bad documentation standards and workarounds from forming. Communicate these standards during training and emphasize them during personalized lab sessions.
- Make it clear to staff that the EHR will continue to develop: EHRs need to change according to the changing requirements of medical specialties.
- Ensure command center efficiency: Your command center must be staffed by clinical and non-clinical staff. Ensure that critical issues are identified and escalated in the enhancement queue.
- Consider previous go-live experiences: Consider the challenges involved in any previous EHR implementations, and have a clear plan to address them if they arise.
To facilitate processes such as medical chart reviews and medical record retrieval, you need a fully functional, efficient EHR system. Healthcare organizations can benefit from partnering with reliable training resources from the initial phase of EHR migration planning. This will help organizations better understand training timeline nuances and provide end users a voice during the implementation process. It is best for implementation teams to spend time with end users at least for the first six months of the migration project so that they can understand existing workflows. The information shared with the project team that would then mimic processes within the new EHR. When a clear idea is given to clinicians and staff, better end user adoption of the new technology is ensured.