EHR Implementations: What Works? What Doesn’t?

August 29, 2017 by Antonio Arias, MBA, CHBME

Topics: Meaningful Use Stage 2, Practice Management, Medical Billing Company

In 2017, some medical practices have more experience with EHR implementations than they’d care to. After first deploying solutions around the dawn of Meaningful Use (circa 2011), many have moved on from their initial selections.

Nowadays, most EHR implementations aren’t about onboarding a practice to a digital solutions from scratch, but rather about replacing their first choice of EHR – or even re-replacing their second choice of EHR – for a better solution. But when it comes to the actual implementation process, practices that fail to heed the lessons of earlier deployments are doomed to repeat their mistakes.

If your practice is considering implementing a new EHR, now is the time to revisit your prior experiences to remember what worked, what didn’t, and what challenges came up throughout the process. Sometimes, it’s about recognizing that the flip side of a good choice can still lead to issues if backed by the wrong approach. Keep the following concerns in mind as you plot the next phase of your practice’s EHR journey.

Works: Build buy-in with better workflows

Doesn’t: Expecting too much change too soon

Earning the support of management, administrative, and clinical team members alike means making sure all parties understand the benefits of a new solution. One smart way to do that is to walk through how a selected EHR will adapt existing workflows across the front office, back office, and the exam room, showcasing to all parties how they’ll enjoy productivity and efficiency improvements.

But be careful not to overpromise (and underdeliver) on the new-and-improved elements of the implementation. If you say strong workflow improvements will be possible with the EHR, make sure you can back up your claims; if you can’t you risk losing your team’s trust in the value of the switch.

Works: Phased implementation

Doesn’t: Unrealistic schedules

If you have multiple office locations to onboard to a new solution, scaling your deployments over time is the best way to avoid getting overwhelmed; if all teams are put on a new platform at once, you’ll be all the more likely to see small problems grow out of proportion during those first few weeks on the new solution.

However, a phased implementation only works with the right schedule behind it. Avoid your impulse to put too-short timelines behind your deployment plan at each location, or risk letting a small round of delays lead to long-term postponements as your implementation calendar goes off track.

Works: Activating staff to advocate & champion

Doesn’t: Overloading duties on a small team

Every implementation consultant will tell you that having the support of experienced staff members behind your EHR initiative is clutch to your ultimate success. Best practices include activating senior team leaders to learn the software as “super users” and placing both clinical and administrative staff members on the project management team (to ensure the solution meets their unique needs).

Yet it’s important to be mindful of putting too much on your team’s plate. If your staff is overwhelmed by the responsibilities they face in advance of deployment, they’ll be all the less likely to embrace the benefits of a new solution. Make sure the folks you tap in can handle their duties without lagging on their day-to-day expectations, and bring in outside consultants to manage the most burdensome aspects of the implementation experience.


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