As the healthcare industry moves toward a digital landscape, the popularity of EHR in the healthcare industry is growing manifold. By digitalizing many important medical tasks, EHRs make critical information available instantly and securely to authorized users. This helps healthcare practitioners and medical centers to make quick, data-driven decisions for improved patient experience while simultaneously remaining compliant with the guidelines regarding patient security. However, several healthcare organizations are unsure about how they can embark on the EHR journey; they do not know how an EHR can help their organization, they do not know where to start.

EHR Implementation- Here’s What You Need to Know

Very often, in spite of facing several operational issues, healthcare organizations dodge the idea of implementing an EHR – not because of inadequate resources, but because of the resistance to undertake the painstaking effort in undergoing change. It is only when things become overwhelmingly problematic – staff turnover, lost revenue, poor patient care etc. – that organizations decide to get an EHR on board. If the thought of an EHR implementation sounds daunting, you’re not alone! Although implementing an EHR system is becoming common practice across the healthcare industry, the process is complex and needs you to undertake it with utmost planning and precision. It is only when you are sufficiently prepared that you can you minimize the challenges and be better prepared to weather the storms ahead. Here’s what you need to know about EHR implementation:

  1. Focus on needs:Although organizations across the world embark on the EHR journey to improve patient experience and reduce health care costs, the problem arises when the implementation gets off to a bad start. This can complicate the entire experience for staff and patients for years to come. However, that does not have to be the case. By having a thorough understanding of your needs, you can devise a plan – with the help of your staff – for successful implementation. Since EHR implementation can help improve overall quality and continuity of care, it pays to take things slow and do plenty of research before you begin; take time to outline the problems you are trying to solve and devise a plan accordingly.
  2. Ensure leadership commitment: An important aspect for successful EHR implementation is leadership commitment. Without administrative and medical staff leaders taking time to participate in implementation efforts, there is no way your efforts are going to bear fruit. It is only when the senior leaders devote a significant portion of their time in planning and implementation, can you expect to achieve success. Leadership commitment is essential to support the implementation, remove barriers and help everyone move through the change process with a positive outlook.
  3. Build trust: The introduction of an EHR will change the way employees do their work. This can be intimidating, and if not addressed ahead of time, can lead to a lack of acceptance. Since EHR system implementation will bring about massive operational change, which is difficult to manage, building trust among the staff is critical to the success of implementation. Making your employees understand how the EHR would improve clinical outcomes, how the additional time required for data entry would be offset by not having to wait for information and results, and how the system would help them avoid dangerous medical errors is a great step towards building trust and ensuring adoption.
  4. Devise a comprehensive plan: With multi-specialty hospitals having several departments and functional units, accommodating the unique requirements and preferences of every specialty is a recipe for disaster. Although every department would require a different set of data for improved decision-making, maximizing the combined functionality of the EHR system is more advisable than heavily customizing it. The true power of any EHR comes from the totality of the information it provides; it takes a holistic and comprehensive view of the patient and communicates critical health information to every physician for improved diagnosis and treatment.
  5. Create cross-functional teams: Since convincing physicians of the value of an EHR is one of the biggest challenges, getting your staff involved in the implementation will go a long way. Since staff, especially physicians, will have several questions and anxieties about the transformation of their daily activities with the introduction of an EHR, involving them from the beginning is essential to ensure they understand the changes that will take place, give them the opportunity to see demonstrations and allow them to ask questions concerning their functional area. When everyone shares the risk of making the decision, they feel more responsible for the success of the new solution.
  6. Provide training and support:When using a new system, people want to be assured that they will be supported and protected should anything go wrong. Therefore, providing immediate, technical support through classroom training as well as live-sessions is essential. Although initially, trainers can be brought on board to provide training and support, later, physicians who have already implemented the application successfully in their department can act as consulting experts, making themselves available to their colleagues. Irrespective of the department, it is important that every staff member receives adequate training to ensure that your practice continues to run smoothly and your patients continue to receive excellent care.

Accelerate Outcomes

EHR implementation is far more than just an IT project — it is a transformation that impacts everyone within the healthcare environment including practitioners and patients. Although EHR implementation is a complex and costly undertaking, when done right, it allows healthcare practitioners to treat patients more rapidly and efficiently. Like any project, planning and thorough training is the key to success. Choose a trusted vendor who has sufficient experience and expertise in similar implementations. Dedicate proper amount of time in advance for proper due diligence and have a robust change management plan in place to ensure your staff is aware of all the changes. A successfully implemented EHR can facilitate the evolution of best practices, help overcome complications involved with traditional modes and accelerate healthcare outcomes for a better world.