Things You Need to Know Before Implementing EHR

electronic health record systems

In modern healthcare settings of developed nations, electronic health records (EHRs) play a pivotal role. This article will aid individuals in understanding the process of implementing electronic health records software, regardless of the size of their healthcare provider.

What is EHR Implementation?

EHR implementation involves the process of establishing electronic health records software within healthcare organizations, encompassing:

  • Data Enrichment: Involves enriching the EHR systems with health data, patient records, and relevant information.
  • Workflow Development: Includes building customer tasks, workflow sequences, and automations to streamline processes and reduce manual workloads.
  • Communication: Entails effectively communicating the change to medical staff and patients, ensuring clarity and understanding.
  • Staff Training and Support: Involves onboarding, training, and providing ongoing support to hospital medical staff regarding the functionality of the new EHR system, core features utilization, error troubleshooting, and collaborative practices.
  • Data Cleaning and Validation: Requires cleaning and validating existing data before initiating the migration process to ensure accuracy and integrity.
  • Patient Portal Promotion: Involves promoting the new digital health records portal to patients and providing onboarding support to facilitate their engagement with the system.

The Significance of Effective EHR Implementation

Efficient utilization and team proficiency are essential for ensuring a positive return on investment in an electronic health record system, given its substantial initial outlay.

A successful implementation of electronic health records software can offer several benefits, including:

  • Minimization of follow-up expenses related to training, repairs, and maintenance.
  • Enhancement of staff productivity by streamlining workflows and automating repetitive tasks.
  • Improved coordination of patient care across various departments within the clinic.
  • Establishment of a unified repository for patient data encompassing diagnoses, prescriptions, medical histories, allergies, and other pertinent information.
  • Enhancement of the patient experience through the provision of a digital and modernized healthcare environment.

Successful Strategies for EHR Implementation

Implementing electronic health records software involves addressing multiple components: feasibility planning, budgeting, deployment, training, and ongoing support, all geared towards achieving a positive return on investment (ROI).

  1. Establishing an EHR Implementation Team

Constructing an effective EHR implementation team involves assembling stakeholders from your clinic, technicians from the EHR provider’s team, and third-party consultants. This collaborative effort aims to select the appropriate electronic health platform and devise a procurement strategy for choosing the EHR provider. While EHR use cases vary based on organizational size, certain key roles are indispensable for the implementation team:

  • Project Manager: Responsible for providing guidance, ensuring project adherence to timelines and scope, and facilitating communication between the technical team and medical practitioners for customization of EHR systems.
  • Application Analyst: Tasked with gathering requirements from hospital departments and translating them into blueprints for the development team.
  • Application Developers: Engaged in constructing clinical applications tailored to your staff’s needs.
  • Quality Assurance Test Engineers: Conduct testing throughout and post-deployment to identify and rectify bugs, errors, and exceptions in the EHR systems.
  • Super Users and Physician Champions: Departmental heads, senior specialists, and nurse leads who undergo training to proficiently use the best EHR for mental health, integrate it with existing systems, and educate their peers on its functionality.
  1. Defining Your Budget, Scope, and Timeline

Typically, electronic health records software incur cost expenses for hospitals per full-time practitioner and require deployment duration ranging from a few months to several. The depth of inquiry during the exploratory phase correlates with the quality of answers obtained to help you allocate budget efficiently, avoid scope expansion, and adhere to implementation deadlines.

  1. Introducing EHR Changes: Early Communication and Explanation

Internal resistance often serves as the primary impediment to successful implementation of EHR systems. To avoid pushback from your staff, particularly within larger clinics, it’s essential to:

  • Conduct both virtual and physical demonstrations to illustrate to your nurses, GPs, and other team members how implementing the best EHR for mental health can enhance their workflow, increase efficiency, and simplify patient relationship management.
  • Promote an environment where staff members feel comfortable expressing their reservations and ensure that their concerns are thoroughly acknowledged and addressed.
  • Make a steadfast commitment to a comprehensive training program aimed at equipping your employees with the confidence required to effectively utilize the new EHR systems.
  1. Familiarizing Yourself with Healthcare Compliance and Security Obligations

Dedicate effort to comprehend all healthcare-related compliance requirements and security protocols. Ensure thorough understanding of your responsibilities mandated by statutes like the Healthcare Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH).

  1. Assessing Your Hardware and Infrastructure Needs

Upon procuring licenses for the EHR systems, additional considerations include:

  • Selection between on premise servers or cloud hosting via AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud.
  • Acquisition of scanners, monitors, medical-grade tablets, and charging docks.
  • Provision of backup servers and uninterrupted power supply.
  • Integration with existing healthcare tech stack, such as the patient portal and healthcare CRM.

While it’s uncommon, some EHR providers may offer bundled software, hardware, and infrastructure solutions, encompassing all budgetary needs. However, if they solely provide software, separate budgeting is necessary for hardware, infrastructure, enhancements, and maintenance.

  1. Revamping EHR Processes for Enhanced Efficiency and Functionality

As part of the transition to our new best EHR for mental health, it’s essential to evaluate and optimize existing processes while crafting new ones that align with the enhanced functionalities offered. We’ll begin by meticulously documenting all current EHR processes, pinpointing areas where adjustments are necessary to optimize efficiency and compatibility with the advanced features of the new systems.

  1. Optimizing EHR Data Management for Accuracy and Efficiency

Efficiently managing data from electronic health records software involves several critical steps to ensure accuracy, reliability, and usability. This process encompasses cleaning existing data, transferring it to new systems, and conducting comprehensive quality checks to maintain data integrity.

  1. Tailored EHR Onboarding, Training, and Guidance for Varied Staff Roles

Incorporating electronic health records software in your hospital requires customized onboarding, training, and ongoing support to accommodate diverse staff roles and their specific needs:

  • Registration clerks input patient profiles, including names, birth dates, gender, etc., into the system.
  • Various specialists like dieticians, radiologists, dentists, and ophthalmologists utilize EHRs for storing patients’ medical histories, diagnoses, medications, treatment plans, immunization dates, allergies, x-rays, and test results.
  • Nurses utilize EHR systems to review patient data and history, aiding in symptom and function management.

Employing a guided employee onboarding platform like eMedHub enables the creation of tailored onboarding sequences. These sequences educate individual staff members on using the EHR platform for their specific job requirements.

  1. Gathering Insightful Feedback for Effective EHR Implementation

To ensure that your investment in EHR systems align with staff needs and workflows, soliciting feedback during the QA testing stage is crucial. Begin by probing with questions like:

  • Has our EHR system positively impacted your workflow?
  • How has it influenced your patient interaction time?
  • What improvements would enhance our EHR’s interface?
  • How much effort is required to input and extract data from our systems?

The fundamental goal of electronic health records software is to automate tasks, streamline workflows, and enhance patient engagement. If your EHR falls short of achieving these objectives during the sandbox stage, reconsidering your approach is prudent.

  1.  Developing EHR Help and Support Content for End-Users

You require a library of self-serve resources that your staff can access at their convenience for addressing queries, troubleshooting bugs, and resolving errors. This can include product documentation, explainer videos, articles, and guides.

  1.  Go Live with Your EHR

Transitioning to live operations, your EHR systems has completed its deployment journey, undergone rigorous quality assurance testing, and now stands ready for full integration into your healthcare operations. It’s the pivotal moment to introduce your new electronic health records platform across your organization.

  1.  Tracking User Adoption and Engagement

Through eMedHub, you gain visibility into the users of your Electronic Health Record (EHR) platform, their utilization patterns, encountered errors, and frequency of accessing support resources. This data provides profound insights into user engagement levels and the effectiveness of your EHR deployment.

Final Thought

To conclude, you have to follow these steps while using the electronic health records software as it can be the blueprint for establishing a solid foundation for your project. It’s now in your hands, alongside your team, to implement this plan amidst practical challenges, user dissatisfaction, and data gaps.