How to successfully plan and implement an EHR

July 25, 2012

EHR implementation is looming. Find out what doctors who have made the leap have to say. Create a plan now.

Key Points

Buying quality hardware, hiring outside help, and getting buy-in from the practice staff members were three of six key ingredients that helped ease challenges associated with an electronic health record (EHR) system implementation, according to primary care physicians participating in the Medical Economics EHR Best Practices study.

In a recent Medical Economics survey, 30 of the physicians participating in the study were asked to identify key factors that helped them prepare for this implementation. Although the responses varied, the study participants offered this advice:

Training was cited by many of the study participants as being a crucial to implementation success, but survey respondents were split about whether their staffs were adequately trained for the EHR implementation. In contrast, nearly 63% of respondents said the doctor was adequately trained.

Only 54% of the respondents identified the practice as having a "super-user." About 46% of the study's respondents report that the system's training modules did meet their expectations. (The other 54% of respondents said they did not.)

Study participants where asked whether they have been able to integrate some of the interfacing features of their systems. The results include:

Images (scanned documents)
Yes: 52%                 No: 48%

Laboratory findings
Yes: 35%                 No: 65%

Billing
Yes: 40%                 No: 60%

Scheduling
Yes: 68%                 No: 32%

Hospital interface
Yes: 0%                 No: 100%

E-prescribing
Yes: 73%                 No: 27%

Health information exchange
Yes: 8%                 No: 92%

Compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
Yes: 68%                 No: 32%

Medical equipment
Yes: 8%                 No: 92%

When asked whether software vendors met their expectations, 42% of respondents said yes, but 39% remained undecided. Another 19% said vendors did not meet expectations.

Despite some of the negative views about implementation, the majority of the survey participants report making progress in the EHR implementation, according to the Medical Economics survey.

In the most recent survey, 82% were e-prescribing and 74% were able to maintain an active medication list. Just 19% were able to implement one clinical decision support rule, and 7% were able to exchange key clinical information among providers of care and patient-authorized entities electronically (see table).

Participating vendors

ABEL Medical Software..... http://www.abelmedicalsoftware.com
Amazing Charts..... http://www.amazingcharts.com
Aprima.... http://www.aprima.com
athenahealth..... http://www.athenahealth.com
CureMD..... http://www.curemd.com
McKesson Physician Practice Group.... http://www.mckesson.com
MedNet Medical Solutions..... http://www.mednetmedical.com
Practice Fusion.... http://www.practicefusion.com
Vitera.... http://www.viterahealthcare.com