Tuesday’s Tips 3-29-11

By now you and your practice are making decisions on just what to do about selecting, planning, and installing Certified EHR Technology in your facilities. There is no lack of materials on the how, what, where, when, and whys of the subject. The lists go on and on for steps to a successful implementation.

An EHR implementation is an enormous project that begins only after the equally daunting selection and planning projects are completed. When the day comes to “go live” your team, staff, and professionals have already put in yeomen’s duty to get you to this point.

Our new column Tuesday’s Tips will highlight some tips, lessons learned, and best practices all relating to some phase of EHR adoption. Check back on Tuesday for some EHR adoption advice. Our first tips focus on your “go-live” day.

Reduce patient loads on the initial implementation days – The success of any EHR implementation weighs heavily on the end users in the initial period. This means your staff and professionals actually inputting data as a normal daily function. Since this is altogether changing their work habit literally from the day before, one cannot expect them to be proficient in the first days. Allow staff and professionals to become proficient in their new computer functions by scheduling fewer patients on these first days. Remember that all staff members related to patient admissions, care, and discharge will now be using the new system for the first time. You should plan and schedule as if all of your patients are new patients for these first few days. This will give the staff more time with each patient’s information and computer integration hopefully alleviating the possibility of patients backing up unnecessarily in the waiting room or checking out. And on that note, tell your waiting room patients up front that you are implementing your new system and apologize in advance if they encounter any delays. Take those “No Cell Phone” signs down so they have something to do if they are waiting.

Be prepared for a decrease in productivity during the initial implementation period – Like the scenario for reducing patient loads and staff proficiency, one cannot expect this initial implementation period to produce the same productivity as before the implementation. I am sure this was not one of the selling points your vendor used to sell you your system, but like it or not you will have a decrease in productivity levels in this initial period. Your goals and planning should strategically map out how and when you will return to your pre-installation productivity level and then surpass those. And by planning for and acknowledging the decreased productivity, this will also in effect reduce the potential anxieties and increased stress on the staff, providers, administrators, and implementation team. Take the stress out of the equation and implement with your staff the steps and goals you want to meet to get back on track and fully utilizing your new system.

If you are in the planning stages of implementation you may also want to download our exclusive checklist – 5 Phases for EHR Adoption. It is available for download to all of our members.

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