According to the CDC, nearly 90% of physicians use an electronic health records (EHR) system in their offices. Are you considering implementing one in your practice?
An EHR system serves as a digital recordkeeping solution. Physicians and healthcare administrators can use it to access and organize all the administrative aspects of a patient’s care, including their charts, medical history, prescriptions, and more.
Transitioning from a paper-based system to an EHR platform can make records management easier and more efficient, thus improving patient care. However, as with any enterprise software project, there are inherent risks.
Today, we’re sharing the challenges of implementing an EHR system and how you can avoid them so you never have to think about software failure.
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6 Challenges of Implementing an EHR System
1. Choosing a System With the Right Functionality
During the software selection phase, you will meet with different providers who will try to sell you on their systems. They will emphasize the myriad bells and whistles you can leverage by purchasing their EHR software.
While some of these features may be useful at your office, you might not need all of them. Before you get stars in your eyes, take the time to define your software requirements and the goals of your EHR implementation.
What do you hope to gain from the new software, and what benefits do you expect for employees, patients, and providers? Further, which of your business processes are complex enough that you need to translate them into software requirements for potential vendors?
If your new system isn’t functional for your team members, then they’re likely to revert to their familiar practices. Therefore, make sure the software you select includes functionality that will help you realize the goals you set.
2. Ensuring System Uptime and Technical Capability
Before selecting an on-premise EHR software solution, it’s important to assess the state of your current infrastructure. How old are the computers at your office? Are they running on the latest operating system or are they in need of an upgrade?
An on-premise EHR platform is only as useful as the machines that run it. If you invest in a robust, feature-rich system, you might find that it slows down older computers and results in costly downtime.
Your options here are to either modernize your infrastructure or invest in a cloud EHR solution before pouring money into EHR software.
3. Continuously Monitoring System Performance
Sometimes, slow operating speeds aren’t attributed to infrastructure shortcomings, but instead, relate to the interconnectivity requirements of EHR platforms.
Your software will need to integrate with healthcare record exchanges across the local, regional, and national levels. There are third parties involved in these exchanges, and your performance will often hinge on theirs.
To avoid delays, you’ll need to keep a close eye on your system performance. This continuous monitoring can be time-consuming, but it’s imperative to ensuring a successful EHR implementation in the long term.
4. Affording Associated EHR Costs
Any enterprise software solution can be an expensive investment. This also applies to EHR where you’ll need to navigate costs associated with both initial implementation and ongoing usage. Be prepared for expenses related to physical infrastructure, end-user training, maintenance, support, and more.
Before you begin your project, we recommend creating a budget that outlines what you intend to spend, and how you will secure the required funding.
Project cost overruns can be a nightmare, especially for smaller practices, so setting realistic expectations will ensure you aren’t blindsided with dollar signs down the road.
5. Ensuring Patient Data is Reliable
To be functional and useful, your EHR solution should allow users quick and easy access to complete and accurate patient files. If some of that data is missing or incorrect, then your solution will fail to meet its full potential.
Before migrating patient data into a new system, take the time to review and cleanse it. Remove duplicate files, correct errors, and fill in empty fields. This will improve usability and make it easier for employees to find the information they need.
6. Helping Employees Embrace the Change
An upcoming EHR implementation will create plenty of buzz around your office. While some employees may be excited about the change and ready to embrace it, others might be hesitant.
Before beginning the project, we recommend conducting an organizational readiness assessment to determine if this is the right time to transform your practice.
This assessment will also help you identify any potential barriers to change, so you can develop a change management strategy to facilitate a smooth transition.
Change management is about preparing your team for new processes and technology. It involves communicating updates with clarity, personalization, and consistency. It also entails listening to and responding to employee feedback.
With the right approach to organizational change management, you can ensure that your move to a digital recordkeeping solution is a smooth one.
An EHR System Can Revolutionize the Provider/Patient Relationship
When physicians have instant access to an individual’s medical history, then they can provide a more personalized level of care. At the same time, healthcare administrators can use electronic records to efficiently answer patient questions, schedule appointments, and communicate with pharmacies.
However, there are challenges of implementing an EHR system, and these are both technical and people-based. By developing a project plan and focusing on change management, you can avoid most of these challenges.