Successful EHR Implementation: 7 Tips

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Successful EHR Implementation: 7 Tips

successful ehr implementation tips

After you have chosen a new Electronic Health Records (EHR) solution, how do you smoothly transition to it? Follow these 7 tips for successful EHR implementation. 

Set realistic goals and expectations.

Is it realistic to think you will be paperless in 1 month? Do all of your programs need to go-live at once or is a phased approach better? What are the politics in your agency? Who is going to be the most resistant to change and maybe should not be a super user or the department to go-live first? Consider these things and set realistic objectives towards successful EHR implementation.

Keep everyone informed and involved.

Make sure your staff understands the goals for your new EHR solution and implementation timeline. Consider involving staff in the selection and implementation process also because participation increases adoption and excitement.

Keep leadership involved.

Keep leadership involved after the decision making process of selecting your EHR. Leadership should be visible, engaged with the training, open and communicative. Leadership sets the tone for the entire project and can help ensure successful EHR implementation.

Educate leaders on change management. 

Educate your leadership on change management. Like the stages of grief, there is an emotional reaction that comes from switching solutions. This should be expected and supported. Understanding the change management curve and appropriate responses will help your leadership team and staff through this process effectively. 

Be communicative with your vendor.

Be communicative and willing to work with your vendor. Seek out acceptable solutions for all involved when issues happen to be sure of a successful EHR implementation. 

Make it fun!

For go-live, consider bringing in breakfast or lunch. You can decorate the lobby.  You could also host an award ceremony at the end of the first month with awards such as: Super User in Training, Best Attitude, Most Helpful, Overcame Most Challenges, Department Most Likely to be Paperless, etc.

Evaluate training.

Before you consider your staff fully trained, assess whether your staff members have practiced multiple training scenarios and whether clinicians have dedicated time outside of their patient hours to learn the new system. Take the time to make sure all users are well versed in the new system and utilize all training available from your vendor.

Benefits of an Embedded EHR Telehealth Tool

embedded ehr telehealth tool benefits

The healthcare field is quickly moving towards using telehealth solutions to increase patient care. The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred its use with an immediate need to connect patients with clinicians virtually, and now it is here to stay. When looking for a telehealth app for your clinic, consider the benefits of using an embedded EHR telehealth tool over purchasing an external-to-EHR telehealth product. If your telehealth app is embedded into your Electronic Health Record (EHR) system you will save on time, money and frustration.

An embedded EHR telehealth tool is one that is built right into your Electronic Health Records system, requiring no separate product to login to. This creates a more streamlined workflow than having an external and separate tool to learn and incorporate. This will prevent your staff from having to make duplicate entries and juggle between two applications thereby reducing errors, saving time and reducing risk of clinician burnout. 

By using an embedded EHR telehealth tool, one-click creates the functionality you need. One selection creates the telehealth appointments (easy for scheduler staff), starts the visits (easy for provider) and allows the patient to enter the visit (easy for the patient). In the same system you can then create invoices for billing (easy for the billing staff). Changes made while using an embedded EHR telehealth tool would also update the patient’s health records instantaneously. This ensures your clinicians are viewing the latest health information and are able to make clinical documentation while still face-to-face with your patients virtually.

To stay vigilant against cyberattacks, healthcare agencies need to make cybersecurity a priority in every tool and application they use. While there are HIPAA-compliant external telehealth tools available, they can be very expensive add-ons. If you use an embedded EHR telehealth tool as part of a certified Electronic Health Record product, then you can be sure it has been evaluated for security and HIPAA compliance along with the EHR system itself. This can give you confidence that the telehealth tool you are using is a safe choice. It also prevents you from having to purchase an expensive external application.

Health agencies and clinics make bold steps towards the future of healthcare by incorporating telehealth. Telehealth tools increase patient access to the right care, at the right place, at the right time. They save patients time and money and allow clinicians to see more patients. A merged EHR telehealth solution just increases the flow of information even further and gives your team confidence in a secure product that already works within your existing Electronic Health Record workflow.

Use a Cloud-Based EHR to Reduce Costs

cloud-based ehr cost


There are two forms of Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems – systems whose servers are stored on the client side and systems whose server is hosted in the cloud. While both of these systems have immeasurable benefits over paper records, go with a cloud-based EHR to reduce costs at your healthcare agency.

SAVINGS FROM CLOUD-BASED EHR

DECREASED UPFRONT COSTS

Client-server EHRs have a high upfront cost to install, often requiring buying or leasing expensive hardware and hiring IT staff. By contrast, cloud-based EHR systems have little to no upfront cost and require no additional hardware or IT staff.

MEANINGFUL USE INCENTIVES 

Choosing a cloud-based EHR software makes Meaningful Use incentive payments a profit generator rather than a discount on the upfront costs of purchasing a new EHR. With a cloud-based EHR, by the time your monthly payments add up to the incentive benefit, your EHR should already be producing a positive return on your investment. Because client-server EHRs cost a lot upfront, it mitigates this benefit.

COST PREDICTABILITY

The cost of a client-server EHR can be unpredictable due to crashes or needing capacity upgrades. The hardware and software must be regularly tested and upgraded as needed, which requires hiring IT staff. A cloud-based EHR system has a consistent price subscription price and no maintenance or additional IT staff are required as the vendors take care of those systems for you. 

FASTER REGULATIONS COMPLIANCE 

Because government healthcare regulations change so often, updates to EHR systems are needed pretty frequently. Because client-server EHRs typically require installation by a hired IT technician, this costs time to schedule along with additional money. Cloud-based EHRs are updated automatically through the cloud; however, with no wait time, additional cost or person to hire.

EASIER TO IMPLEMENT AND SCALE

Implementing, maintaining and scaling up a client-server EHR as your practice grows can be complicated and require a lot of help from hired IT professionals. With a cloud-based EHR, however, new staff members only require access to your system via a secure website or client software installed on their machine.

MORE REVENUE COLLECTION OPTIONS

Cloud-based EHRs include interoperability that allows you to offer various payment options and methods. Because the cloud-based system can sync with multiple payers more efficiently, this expedites claims payment, improves revenue and boosts patient satisfaction. 

While both client-server and cloud-based EHRs will help your healthcare agency in the long run to manage your patient data and billing more effectively than paper solutions, cloud-based EHRs can overall more positively impact your operations budget. Be sure to consider these things when pricing out EHR solutions for your agency.

How to Evaluate EHR Solutions

evaluate ehr solutions

When shopping for an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system, evaluate EHR solutions for the following to ensure you find one that can best fit your needs.

Certifications

EHR certification programs are designed so that healthcare agencies can verify they are investing in secure Electronic Health Record (EHR) solutions. Certified solutions would have been rigorously inspected by independent organizations. Systems that are ONC certified can qualify providers to collect Meaningful Use incentive funding. Evaluate EHR solutions for certifications to ensure they are reputable, vetted and can satisfy any funding requirements.

Usability

Usability is a term that references whether a user can accomplish their goal within an EHR system. An EHR that is easy-to-use requires less effort for staff and less impact on a practice’s day-to-day operations. EHRs with good user interface design should integrate smoothly into a practice’s workflow, feel intuitive and be at least somewhat easy-to-learn. Usability also concerns itself with whether changes can be made independently in the system or if custom programming would be required and whether or not the system shifts responsibility away from ancillary staff onto clinicians. Evaluate EHR solutions to ensure they improve your workflow.

Cost/ Value 

Cost/ value comparisons must include any additional costs associated with training, support and staff overtime beyond the upfront costs of owning a solution. There may be extra fees associated with things like a clearinghouse or e-prescription service. There might also be programs or discounts available from vendors or time-saving solutions like bulk-uploads for data migration. After all of these costs and savings are considered, the best value product will fit in the middle range of budget on price while still meeting all the needs in an EHR solution.

Training

Adequate and effective EHR training for staff members is essential. Poor training is one of the top reasons that EHR implementations fail. A combination of on-site training and flexible, virtual training times will maximize success. Evaluate EHR solutions for the training provided by your vendor in the short and long term.

Support

Evaluate how EHR vendors are prepared to offer support after go-live. Will they support through implementation or will staff be mostly alone through implementation? What is their reputation for customer service and responsiveness to user inquiries? Find out if they support hardware, software or both. Find out if they provide local support, phone support or both. Find out what hours support is available. Evaluate EHR solutions for reliable, timely support for any technical issues that may arise.

Reliability

Evaluate EHR solutions for reliability by finding out if vendors provide best practices, if they are built on reliable technologies and if their company is committed to the healthcare IT market in the long-term. 

By evaluating EHR solutions in all of these areas your healthcare agency should be able to make a choice with a vendor and solution that is right for you.

8 Things to Find Out Before Shopping for an EHR

shopping for a new ehr


Whether your health agency currently uses paper records or an Electronic Health Records (EHR) software, prepare yourself ahead of shopping for a new EHR. By determining the following, you will have a better understanding of your needs and will be able to communicate those needs as well as evaluate vendors more effectively. Here are the things you need to know to find the solution that is right for you:

1- Current System Likes and dislikes  

Find out what is working or not working in your current system, whether it be paper or an electronic system. Interview staff members from across your organization to ensure you get a full understanding.

2- Required Functionality

Prioritize which functionality is required or would be nice to have before shopping for a new EHR system so it will meet your current and future needs and improve your workflow.

3- User Access Requirements

Find out how many and which staff members will need user access; define their specific roles including clinical, administrative, billing, scheduling, etc.

4- Required Programs and Interfaces  

Find out which forms, reports, billing requirements, etc. you need in your system. Also determine what interfaces you require to be functional with other systems you use or would like to connect such as immunization registries, HIEs, laboratory/radiology, medical devices, etc.

5- Certification Requirements

If you are expecting to qualify for grant funding, you will require an ONC Certified solution. Meeting that standard will ensure that your solution adheres to privacy and security HIPAA laws and can work with other systems to share patient information securely.

6- Complete vs. Modular Solution

Find out whether you want a complete or modular solution. A complete EHR solution supports the continuum of care from prior to the patient visit to the coordination of care in the community after the visit. A modular solution combines various vendor products working with your EHR to support that continuum of care.

7- Data Needs  

Determine what data you want to populate into your new EHR system, and if it needs discreet handling versus what can be scanned and uploaded into your new system. Knowing what format your data is in or needs to be can make the data migration into your new EHR much easier. Some vendors offer bulk uploading of data in specific formats, which would save you a lot of time. 

8- Budget 

Find out your total budget before shopping for a new EHR solution. When you consider vendor products you will want to watch out for any additional fees for training, services or vendor add-ons besides their base product price so you can find a solution that gives you the best value in your price range.