If you want to achieve better organization, improved efficiency, and enhanced operations within your medical practice, then you need to begin moving into the future with EHR implementation. Studies have shown that EHR systems can generate value of approximately $150,000 per year, per doctor, when used properly.
Although implementing an Electronic Health Record, or EHR system into your practice can be a complicated, and often time-consuming process, the right planning can make the procedure easier for everyone involved. Once you've chosen the right system, and you have an action plan in place, you can ensure that your practice makes the transition to the modern world of health smoothly, and begin reaping the benefits of your new system as early as possible. Following are a selection of tips that could help you to optimize your implementation efforts.
Step One: Begin by Assessing Your Practice and Goals
Assessing your practice as it currently stands will help to form the foundation for your EHR implementation process. After all, by examining how your practice works without EHR, you can establish which changes need to be pushed forward first, and how you can use your new system to maximize efficiency, eradicate problems, and deliver a better environment for your staff and patients alike. Your assessment should include a consideration of: your administrative procedures, the management of tasks, and the storage and documentation of data.
A thorough assessment should allow you to come together with other members of your practice and document goals that you hope to achieve with your new electronic health record system. Remember, the goals that you set should be ones that are meaningful and relevant to your practice, as the aim should be to maximize efficiency, and improve productivity.
Step Two: Configure the Software to Your Specific Needs
One of the most appealing features in new EHR systems, is that you can customize them to suit the needs of your particular organization. The customization of your EHR solution will include determining which data elements you need to record, and how they should appear in documentation and files. With a little help, you should be able to configure your EHR software by making templates and developing a list of preferences and build elements. For instance, the customization of build elements may include changing:
- Computerized order entry (COE)
- Practice management software
- Placement of standing orders
- Default patient history settings
- Medication management settings
- Treatment protocols and regimens
- Billing and charging procedures
Step Three: Set a Date for the Switch
With your goals outlined and your software customized to meet those specific ambitions, you'll be ready to set a date to implement your EHR system. Generally, it's a good idea to conduct the switchover during a time when your practice is quieter than usual. For example, you may decide to schedule fewer patients within a certain week so that your staff have more time to learn the new system and adjust to any changes.
Some practices choose to go live the day that they sign up with an EHR system, but start to roll out new features slowly (such as e-prescribing, followed by note documentation a few months later) - allowing staff members to get used to each update one step at a time. Others focus on transferring data and optimizing workflow before officially introducing EHR. Regardless of the strategy you choose, it's important to make sure that every member of staff is fully aware of the planned schedule, and what they need to do.
Step Four: Prepare Your Patients and Staff
Make sure that your patients know that you will be implementing a new computer system at a certain time — this should help them to show some compassion while your staff members are getting used to new procedures.
However, while it's important to keep your patients up-to-date, your biggest priority should be ensuring that each member of staff knows their place in the process. Underline each of the responsibilities your staff members will have in dealing with the implementation, from charting, to billing, scheduling, and prescribing, and make sure they know how to use the software you're rolling out, and where they can go for help. The more you answer questions, and give resources to your staff members for training, the more likely your employees are to support the new system and work harder at it.
Step Five: Keep Making Improvements
Once you've made sure that everyone has a working log-in, your vendor knows when you're going live and is available to offer support, and that your practice is ready to move forwards, it'll be time to roll out your EHR officially. However, remember that the work doesn't stop on launch day. Your aim should be to constantly improve and update your system as you go — figuring out what's working and what isn't, and collecting feedback from your staff that you can transform into actionable changes.
EHR is there to improve the way your practice works — but a big part of its success depends on the amount of work you're willing to put into it.