How to Ensure Smooth EHR Implementation: 7 Best Practices to Follow

Jacob Schooley

April 13, 2022

The implementation or replacement of electronic health records must be as seamless as possible in order to avoid losing patient info and unnecessary fines or conflicts with HIPAA who may claim that your EHR transition was insecure. So how can your EHR transition be made easier? To see what you can do to make your life and the lives of your staff infinitely easier, follow the tips below.

Create an Implementation Team

If you want EHR implementation to go as smoothly as possible, you, and the facility manager, should gather together a team who can dedicate their undivided attention to this critical task. You don’t want to pull together a team that has an entire wing of patients to check on. This team you’ve constructed should come from stakeholder groups.

Create an Implementation Plan

Once your team is assembled, they need to discuss several key points to work through the entire process of EHR implementation. These key points start from recognizing the need for a new EHR system, to how the new system will be chosen, to how it will be installed, and everything in between. Complete with important documents such as BAA contracts.

 

The plan might include details as,

  • The expected costs of the implementation, including subscription and installation costs, and if possible, as cushion in case it turns out to be more expensive than originally believed.
  • The creation and deadlines of a training program for staff members
  • EHR testing and trial period
  • Creation of a checklist of “success factors,” that will clearly show when a system is successful (i.e. eliminates weaknesses your old system had).

Identify Potential Problems

How will you and your team secure the facility and internal systems so that when the time for transfer comes, the patient info is backed up, stored securely, and the transfer of data isn’t compromised by the weaknesses of the old or new systems?

How will the head staff encourage the idea of a change in the choice of system used by the entire facility within all the staff, who are probably not very excited about having to relearn a new system?

When the time comes for various vendors to demonstrate their system, this team should have a series of general questions to ask each vendor to evaluate whether the system is right for your particular facility.

Finally, the team should discuss security measures while transferring sensitive healthcare patient information.

Determine the EHR Your Facility Needs

Evaluate your current IT health system weaknesses and strengths and determine what features and functions your particular facility needs from the new EHR system. Some of the features you may need from your new EHR could include,

  • Charting
  • Compliance tracking
  • E-prescribing
  • Meaningful use certified
  • Self-service portal
  • Patient tracking
  • Reputation management
  • Track assignment and prioritization

Do you need the system to be ONC-ATCB certified? Whatever features you consider with your new EHR, just be aware that the Healthcare Blockchain Working Group known as INATBA stated that:

 

“EHR should manage all the operations from the frontline care to the back office. It shouldn’t be just sorting out the bedside processes in isolation but rather linking them with the back office so that everyone is on the same page being equally informed.”

Work Closely with Your HIPAA Compliance Officer

Remember why you hired your HIPAA Compliance officer to begin with. They are specifically trained and are able to use your resources to ensure that your facility and staff are regularly in compliance with HIPAA security standards with sensitive and critical patient healthcare information.

A great Compliance officer is also very good at reaching out to vendors your facility uses to make sure the proper documentation is signed, documented, and recorded so that liability and responsibility is understood between all parties involved.

How does this affect EHR implementation? The provider and installer of the software you will be using to keep track of your crucial records are 3rd parties that must comply with BAA contracts, or else you simply do not use them.

Determine Your Timeline

After you have chosen a vendor, the contracts are negotiated, and the BAAs and liability waivers are signed, they can help you determine implementation deadlines that will allow your facility and staff to work with minimal interruption, or better yet, no interruption at all. The deadlines should also be flexible enough so that if an unexpected hiccup in the transition occurs, so that the implementation is only completed when the entire facility is ready.

 

The vendors will help you and your team to understand how the software and hardware will be installed and deployed, the amount of time installation takes, interruptions and disconnections from the old system, where the weak spots in security may be, etc.

Get the Executive Team Involved

One of the reasons there is a lot of friction in EHR implementation is when your nurses, office staff, doctors, surgeons, etc. don’t see the CEOs or CFOs having to take the time out of their impossibly busy day or even what was supposed to be their one day off to learn the ins and outs of the new IT system.

 

Have the executives participate in the system training, testing, and trial period with the EHR as much as the rest of the staff to maintain sympathy with each knowing that everyone has to go through this.

Conclusion

The most common problems in the implementation and transition process with EHRs is the lack of thought put into the process, and what each step of the process takes. And a lot of snags come up because the managers or executives aren’t considering how implementing a new system personally affects all of the staff involved.

When you can logically comprehend these two things, the entire operation is made easier. It’s simply a matter of identifying potential problems from step 1 to the end from every factor involved: high staff, low staff, patients, vendors, HIPAA, etc.

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