Electronic Health Records

Adoption & Implementation News

Keys to a successful EHR implementation

By sburrows@xtelligentmedia.com

- The ultimate goal for any physician office electronic health record (EHR) system implementation is success! Given the financial and resource investment, no one enters into the project wanting to fail. It is crucial to keep in mind the potential strengths (and weaknesses) of your team when considering the process of transitioning to an EHR.

Physician office staff is very vital to the success of the implementation. Little is discussed in regards to the role played by office personnel in any healthcare IT implementation. Realizing early on what valuable assets to a successful HIT strategy these personnel provide, ensures the project’s success. Involving staff early and often in any planned health IT implementation or new service upgrades is always beneficial. Educating and preparing the staff for the work to come is a key step in the process.

Although quite rudimentary, eHow.com provides a very good high-level overview of key steps on “How to Train for the EMR” to prepare for an EHR implementation:

1. Identify the existing computer literacy of every member of the office you are training.

This is an important point because each person comes to the table with different levels of comfort when using technology. There is a significant generational gap between those who grew up using technology and those who have not. Identifying reluctant users early in the process avoids issues by level-setting trainees.

2. Provide remedial computer instruction to individuals until the entire office is literate in basic computer operations

Identifying (early on) any deficiencies to computer literacy among staff and correcting them will minimize the bumps down the road. We’ve all heard the stories of the fledgling staff member pointing the mouse at the computer screen to double click the icon. Providing basic computer training can bring staff to a whole new level when the time comes to train them in the new EHR.

3. Teach the system from the bottom up.

Start the process at the beginning! The old adage — you must crawl before you walk — is pointedly true here too! Start by learning the basics of the new system. People learn at different rates and in different ways. After getting the basics down, advanced topics in smaller, more applicable groups based on their functional areas can be introduced.

4. Select some of the most technologically proficient members of the office, then give them full training on all aspects of the system

Who can argue against identifying a super user among the physician office staff? In most implementations, there are certain individuals for whom understanding and using the system seem to come naturally. Leveraging these individuals as a go-to person for questions, minor, troubleshooting and refresher training to help those who may have forgotten parts of their training helps those who may be stumbling and can provide a point of contact with the vendor should there be a need for additional technical support.

The needs of physician office staff are all too often overlooked when it comes time to implementing an EHR.  These are vital members of the healthcare delivery team and their active participation in the process is vital to its success!

Stephen Burrows, DPM, MBA, is the Chair & Program Director in the Healthcare Informations at Sacred Heart University. Stephen began his work with HIT during his residency at the VA in West Haven, Connecticut, in the late 1990s. It was here that Burrows and his fellow techno-savvy podiatrists decided as a group to make use of basic electronic systems for treating their patients, employing character-based “dumb” terminals (i.e., green screens) to access labs, radiology reports, nursing notes, and computerized physician order entries (CPOEs).

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