How to implement a new EHR system
There are two schools of thought surrounding EHR implementation. Some practices adopt an immediate implementation approach, which means they attempt to minimize costs associated with a timely conversion. Other medical practices take an incremental implementation approach, during which they activate certain functions in a sequential manner and slowly convert processes from one system to the next. While these two strategies vary in duration, the same general principles of EHR implementation apply.
Eight steps to implementing a new EHR:
1. Define the timeline and set roll-out goals
Based on practice size, in-house staffing resources, the amount of data that needs to be transferred, and customizations required, EHR implementation can take as little as a few weeks to a year to complete.
2. Select an EHR implementation committee
Medical practices don’t typically require an in-house IT professional to lead EHR implementation. Instead, include your staff in the decision-making and implementation process. Assign a team member who understands your EHR to lead the implementation process. Some practices create an implementation working group that represents different job functions. This prevents implementation delays and ensures that everyone who uses the EHR is comfortable with the new system.
3. System configuration
This key phase of implementation entails building a wide range of templates based on the practice’s preferences and existing workflows.
4. Customize workflows
As you explore your new EHR with your training team, you may discover that new functionality is at your fingertips. Don’t be afraid to optimize your workflows with customizations during this stage. When evaluating a current workflow, ask yourself:
- “Is this feature necessary?”
- “Does the patient or staff benefit from this feature?”
- “Can we streamline this process to make it more efficient?”
Making these changes from the start reduces inefficiencies in the long run.
5. Data migration
Your software provider’s technical experts can help your team securely import patient data and other information from your old EHR to the new one.
6. Team training
Investing in software training is one of the most important ways to simplify EHR implementation. EHR software providers often offer on-site and/or distance learning. Make sure your practice receives one-on-one training time with an experienced instructor who can introduce your staff to the new system’s features.
7. System evaluation and testing
A soft roll-out allows your team to test the system and evaluate its functionality before you officially launch the new system.
8. Go live
Your system is ready to use! Make sure your vendor is accessible during the first few days of the transition so if questions arise you can address them quickly.