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A new system can hurt a practice’s workflow. Here’s how to get back to top form quickly.
Determine several metrics in advance of the implementation and then measure against them at key intervals, such as 30, 60, 90 and 120 days post-implementation and then again at six months out, says Scott Jacobs, vice president of community outreach services at The HCI Group, a Health IT firm. Physicians should contractually obligate EHR vendors to deliver such results, with stipulations for more training or refunds.
Rely on superusers
Tech-savvy organizations identify workers with strong technical acumen to be superusers. Superusers serve as resources for others in their offices, helping colleagues navigate new systems to get the maximum value, says Angela Rose, MHA, RHIA, director of health information management practice excellence at the American Health Information Management Association. When Rose worked at a physician clinic, she attended a full week of training at the EHR vendor’s headquarters.
Plan for additional training
Physicians should schedule additional training to address questions that arise as they and their staff use the system daily, says Rose. Structure your contract so that the EHR vendor must provide training until staff meets certain competencies, instead of stipulating a certain amount of hours. Also, aim for one-on-one or small-group training.
Sell the upgrade
It’s important to let people know that there’s an adjustment period, says Jacobs. Physicians should tell those in the practice about the upgrade and sell their patients and partners on the change, too. “Tell them, ‘We’re increasing our capabilities. Your data is going to be safer now.’ And if you’ve gotten an EHR integrated (with the local hospital), that’s a huge benefit. I’d let them know that you’ll have all their records-everything [that happened at the] hospital you will know about-and vice versa,” he says.
Software doesn’t always work perfectly. That’s why physicians should monitor their new EHR and ensure it’s handling functions and data accurately, Rose says. For example, she recommended fact-checking data to ensure data is entered into the EHR accurately and in the right data fields, starting with daily spot checks and moving to less frequent checks if all is well.
Tweak your new system
Similarly, no EHR delivers every function and feature, but physicians shouldn’t accept an unsatisfactory system, either. So plan to address substandard performance in those first few months after the initial implementation, Rose says. “You might be able to make some adjustments. You can ask vendor to see if they can make it happen or find a work-around,” she says.