How to Implement a New EHR System

Electronic health record (EHR) software gives medical providers the ability to digitally access and manage patient charts. Whether practices are transitioning from paper records or from an existing platform to a new EHR vendor, implementing a new EHR system can seem daunting. 

In this article, we examine the top criteria that medical practices should evaluate when selecting an EHR, key considerations, and best practices for EHR implementation.

Why would a medical practice change its EHR? 

Medical practices may choose to implement a new EHR for numerous reasons:

  • Lack of Features: If a practice’s existing EHR lacks important functionality, then they may start looking for a new solution. For example, a pediatrician’s office would benefit from an EHR that integrates features for growth charts and vaccination records. 
  • Unreliable Platform: Software design flaws, bugs, system downtime, and non-intuitive layouts waste time and increase the chances of data errors. 
  • IT Support: Another main reason why practices begin looking for a new EHR provider is IT support. Without a reliable support network, practices may be forced to wait for service or get stuck paying a premium for additional customizations. 
  • Security: As laws regarding patient privacy and security continue to evolve, EHRs need to keep pace with enhanced security features to stay compliant. 
  • Compliance: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Meaningful Use requirements contain several objectives including the ability to generate and send prescriptions and provide patients with digital access to their medical data. 
  • Sunsetting: Some software providers sunset certain products, which means their legacy solutions are no longer technically supported and updated. If a provider’s EHR is phasing out, it could signal that new changes in service and pricing are to come. 
  • Integrations: More and more medical practices are transitioning to EHRs that integrate with practice management software to streamline revenue cycle management. With the rise of remote patient monitoring, some EHRs also offer the capability for patients to securely transmit vitals and other information to their providers.
  • Price: Some software vendors increase prices over time which negatively affects the practice’s cash flow. This may drive a practice to transition to a more affordable EHR solution.

What should a medical practice consider when adopting a new EHR?

Sometimes, what holds practices back from making the switch to a new, better EHR is the transition itself. To ensure a smooth transition, medical practice managers and key decision-makers searching for a new EHR solution should make sure they’re comfortable with the implementation process. Some questions to consider asking may include how long implementation will take, what training is included in the contract, and what customer support looks like following implementation.

Another key consideration is integration. Does the new EHR integrate with your practice management system? EHR and practice management software integrations expedite medical coding and billing processes by reducing the need to enter data in two separate systems, which can increase the odds of errors and claims denials.

Choosing to adopt a new EHR is not always easy. Medical practices prefer to stay with their current system even if it lacks necessary features simply because making the change to something new can be intimidating. Transferring data and training staff to relearn an entirely new system is a big shift that can disrupt the day-to-day, but that stress can be alleviated by following key steps when switching to a new EHR.

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.

You don’t need to settle if you’re unhappy with your current EHR.

Making the switch to Benchmark Solutions is easy. Benchmark EHR’s average client’s Implementation and Training Program takes about six weeks. Throughout the program, your staff members will be paired with a dedicated software specialist so you get the individualized attention you deserve. Our training includes a dynamic mixture of group training and tailored one-on-one sessions.  After implementation is complete, clients can reach out to our 5-star-rated customer support team with any questions, concerns, or modification requests.

With a five-star rated customer service team, Benchmark Solutions’ clients are in good hands. Are you ready to implement a new EHR? 

Learn more about Benchmark EHR