For those of you who have had to do it – you know that updating, upgrading, or replacing an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system is no small task! It requires that you have a solid understanding of all the “what-ifs” and “how-tos” that are necessary to effect a successful transition – as well as a smooth transfer of crucial patient information.
I thought that I might write a little bit about this, and go through the important questions that you need to ask yourself.
Before you start something as big as this it is important that you ask yourself few questions. These questions will not only ensure awareness of the potential complications and how to avoid them, but help you prepare for a complete, effective, safe transition.
These questions include concerns about:
- cost effectiveness,
- data security,
- re-training, and
- general reluctance to being subjected to another implementation process.
So – all that being said, here are the five questions I think are worth pondering:
Hasn’t Enough Money Been Spent Already?
The key is have an honest analysis of what would be nice to have vs. what is essential.
- Is the practice aligned for ICD-10 requirements?
- Does the system currently satisfy Meaningful Use necessities?
- What changes would improve efficiency and/or productivity?
In other words – by carefully assessing the current status and available improvements, and focusing on a select group of reliable vendors, you can determine the best plan of action.
EHR Training, Again?
Fortunately, having once transitioned from paper to EHR, training and adapting to updates and system changes is easier. Make sure that you ask the EHR vendor to demonstrate the process – this will be extremely helpful and should eliminate any qualms you may have about the change. Choosing a few assessments and being shown how their processes work will encourage clinicians too because with any new process or system, attitude and approach make all the difference.
Will Patient Data Be Secure?
This is obviously a very big concern – will the transfer of patient data be done accurately and securely? The thing that most people do not think about is that changing systems is an opportunity to clean up and filter out irrelevant data.
If you’re still a little uneasy consider doing the following:
- Retain a copy of the existing system for a bit.
- Do a little bit conversion testing before fully completing the transition.
- Ask the EHR vendor to walk you, and the staff, through the process.
Are My The Staff Ready?
This is where you are a leader can shine, because preparedness and leadership are very important to the process.
- The staff should have plenty of time to adjust to upcoming changes and complete any/all required training.
- Make sure that you are communicating early, and effectively – this will help to make your staff eager, efficient, and appreciative.
- Consideration and flexibility help maintain cohesiveness.
In addition make sure that you are also giving your patients a heads up – they will appreciate it too. They’ll want to know when a new process is in the works, and showing consideration for patient awareness will help strengthen the relationship between patient and provider. (Bonus!)
Will Productivity Suffer As A Result?
I guess the best thing to say in this case is – it doesn’t have to, and it shouldn’t. There is a chance that you may find that replacing the existing EHR is faster and easier than the initial EHR implementation. But again, like with anything else, preparedness is the key.
- Your staff should be comfortable with the anticipated workflow, new interface, and necessary technical skills.
- All software should accommodate staff needs.
- Clean up any administrative backlog to minimize potential transfer issues.
- Practice and assess the new system’s processes.
- Makes sure you have EHR experts available for questions and tutorials as necessary.
- Create and plan for data loss mitigation scenarios and make sure that you know how to overcome them.
- Provide staff with opportunities to complain and take the time to rectify any problems that arise.
In the end making an EHR transition should be as easy as possible. It truly can be the best way to improve relationships with staff and patients as well as solidify the future of your practice.
Of course I will highlight that by outsourcing the revenue cycle management (RCM) services, your office’s workload can be lessened and the potential for costly mistakes greatly minimized. Leaving those tasks in the hands of proven, qualified professionals – like Park Medical Billing – can help you avoid many headaches and keep your practice running smoothly.
If you have any questions please do no hesitate to give us a call, or simply fill out the contact us form and someone will get in touch with you immediately.