Posted By Lauren Brawley On November 30, 2021

Implementation Best Practices for EHRs

ehr implementation best practices

While implementation occurs after selecting an EHR, it is important to know what to expect and EHR implementation best practices. Implementing new software is a large project. Whether you’re transitioning from paper to an EHR system or switching EHR systems altogether, the change is significant. Follow these best practices to ease the transition.

Create a Plan

  • When you’re about to take a long trip, you want to know what lies ahead. The same should apply for implementing an EHR solution. That’s why roadmaps are critical for implementation. Successful roadmaps include all tasks and processes that need to be completed by agency staff. 
  • Here are some initial questions to think through:
    • Why is your organization moving to a new EHR?
    • What is the budget for the project?
    • What year would you like implementation to occur?
    • What features is your organization looking for in an EHR? You may want to prioritize these features from wants to needs.

Set Aside Time

Implementation takes time. Here are key elements to set aside time for:

  • Initial Evaluation: How will your team evaluate the EHR options you are considering? Some organizations develop a scoring system. To create a scoring system, consider  your organization’s needs. Score the software on how they meet each of these needs. Another evaluation tactic is to narrow your options down to 3 systems. Then, your organization can vote on which option they prefer. 
  • Data Migration: Patient demographics are often transferred to the new system. Clean data is especially important in a new system. Talk to the vendors about data migration requirements, the process, and any associated costs.
  • Transition and Implementation: It takes time to transition from old processes to a new system. Make sure your staff is prepared to set aside additional time for this transition and implementation. Your organization may consider appointment changes, shifts in schedule, etc.
  • Training: Block time for staff to be trained. A handful of dedicated staff members who learn the full system can be tasked with teaching the system to others once the formal training is complete. These users are considered superusers and are often management staff.

Create a Core Project Team

Once a plan is established, assign people to complete each task. Implementation best practices for the size of your core project team depends on the size of your organization. This list is the minimum number of people we recommend to make up your team. In some cases, roles may be combined.

  • Project Sponsor – The Project Sponsor is the champion of your EHR project. Often, this role is a health officer, CEO, COO, etc.
  • Project Lead/Manager – Project Lead/Manager is the point of contact for all things EHR.
  • Clinical Expert (SME) – The Clinical Expert should be a clinician, NP, or doctor, who knows the clinic well. 
  • Clerical Lead (SME) – Clerical Lead is often the clerical supervisor. This person will become an expert on the chosen EHR system.
  • Lead Biller – The Lead Biller is often the only biller. This role will be taken by someone who is in charge of billing at your clinic.
  • IT Representation – This role is someone who is an expert in IT within your clinic. Sometimes this role is filled by a contract IT professional.
  • Inventory Specialist – If applicable, an Inventory Specialist will need to be assigned to someone who handles vaccines, medications, and inventory. In many cases, this is a nurse in the clinic.

Communicate Openly

EHR vendors and clinicians alike must have open communication during the implementation process. From the beginning of the EHR partnership, implementation best practices include establishing strong internal and external communication. Transparency between EHR vendor staff and all practice staff increases efficiency and eases the transition.

  • Internal Communication – Establish strong internal communication to keep your employees up to date even through the EHR selection process. Recognize that a new solution is a big change. It is helpful for staff to feel as if they’re involved along the way. Some practices update their staff in newsletters or on a bulletin board. Communication along the way eases the transition when implementation begins. 
  • EHR Vendor Communication – Again, it is important to clearly communicate with your vendor during the selection process and pre-implementation. Make sure they are aware of the scope of the project. Consider if your program will need custom features, such as special reporting or new development for the software. Communicating about your needs throughout the process will ensure a smoother transition to new software.
  • Transition – It’s equally important to let the EHR team know which system you will be transitioning from. Communicate which software you are currently using or the workflow you have established on paper. When a current workflow is clearly communicated, it is easier to match during implementation.
  • Training – Training is another topic to communicate thoroughly with your EHR vendor. How do they train? How long will it take to train your users? What ongoing support is provided once formal training is complete? 

If the software team is coming onsite for your go-live day or training, clearly communicate any expectations. Clearly stated expectations will allow both the EHR and clinicians to see if they are attainable. Make sure you have designated super users that will be the first to learn the software more in-depth and help other staff members even when the EHR training teams are not on-site.

About Patagonia Health

Patagonia Health walks through each step of implementation with our partners. We work with our Behavioral Health and Public Health partners to make training and implementation cost-effective, time-efficient, and successful for the long haul. Patagonia Health works to improve your EHR experience while sticking to implementation best practices. Automate workflows, improve efficiency, and increase cash flow with Patagonia Health. 

Hear what our customers have to say about our implementation: “They were here onsite with us the entire time and basically held our hands through it until we felt comfortable and knew what we were doing” -Teresa

For more tips on successful implementation you can check out our other article here:

About Lauren Brawley

Lauren Brawley is a Marketing Specialist at Patagonia Health, a cloud-based EHR designed specifically for behavioral and public healthcare. Lauren integrates her strong communications skills with industry research to keep partners up to date on important Behavioral and Public Health resources and news.