You have decided to implement an electronic health records (EHR) system. Great! You are on your way to becoming a 21st century medical practice. But now what?
You viewed the demos, discussed the pricing, and made the decision on the right EHR for your practice. You didn’t let the training and implementation horror stories you’ve been hearing from your friends and colleagues stop you from pursuing an EHR system. Your palms are sweaty and your heart is racing just thinking about what is to come. Did you invest in something that is going to disrupt your practice or was it one of the best decisions you’ve ever made? (We’re hoping for the latter)
You can protect your EHR investment by being prepared for what is to come. Transitioning to an EHR can be stressful and there will be times when you are extremely frustrated. Preparing as far in advance as possible will help minimize the anxiety and increase your chances of success. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare for EHR on-site training and full EHR implementation procedures.
1.) Pre-train Staff and Providers
Encourage everyone to take advantage of any online training, videos, or webinars. This helps get familiar with the software before the first day of on-site training. The system will be second nature before you know it!
2.) Set the Tone
Keep a positive attitude from day one because your entire practice, front office, providers, and back office, will need to be on board and optimistic. Negativity is contagious. If the staff hears complaints they are going to adopt the same outlook which can become a major barrier throughout the training process. During your office meetings, talk about the transition. Give updates about the process and be realistic but optimistic. Give all providers and staff time to voice concerns about the transition. This will help you understand their fears and also answer any questions.
3.) Patient Communication
Create signs in your office for patients with points on your transition to an EHR. This helps the patient understand how this will ultimately benefit them. Make sure to include the following information:
- Dates when the transition will take effect
- Highlight anything that will lead to easier communication (patient portal, appointment reminders, etc...)
- Advance notice of any dates your office will be closed for training
4.) Document Office Workflows
During your prep time, discuss and document your current office workflow. How does the patient flow from the time they walk into the office until the time they depart? This helps everyone understand the process. The documentation can be shared with your EHR project coordinator so the trainer understands your processes before arriving onsite.
5.) Make sure all hardware is in place
Do not pay for on-site training and the trainer cannot show you certain functionality because the hardware is still in the box. New computers, tablets, printers, and scanners are all items you want to double check have been set up and are working. Get it out of the box and set up and then have users begin to play around with it. This is one less thing you will need to learn during your onsite training.
6.) Computer Literate Staff
Make sure your providers and staff are prepared with the basic computer skills needed to operate the EHR system . While there is certainly a learning curve in the operation of the new system, all staff should be familiar with elementary computer functions like using a mouse, saving files, etc… There are basic computers classes available everywhere for these potentially computer illiterate staff members. Refresher courses would probably benefit many staff members.
7.) Project Coordinator Communication
Send samples of the documentation used at your practice to your EHR project coordinator. This could include:
- a sample progress note
- patient education material
- any special forms used during patient visits
- letters generated for patients.
Be sure to talk to your coordinator about how these items will be worked into your new EHR.
8.) Transition from Paper Records to Electronic Medical Records
This will require some additional work and careful planning. Discuss items that will need to be scanned into the EHR and what items will remain in the paper chart. You will want to begin scanning before onsite training. So discuss the options for learning how to do this with your project coordinator. And don’t forget to make sure you have a quick way to recognize what has already been scanned from the paper chart.
Written by Nicole Benz, eClinicalWorks Resource Manager