9 Steps for EHR Implementation

9 Steps for EHR Implementation

As of January 2016, 59% of medical providers reported using an EHR (Electronic Health Records) and this number is on the rise. Whether your practice is transitioning to EHR or you are considering a new system, the implementation should be carefully planned and executed. Below are nine steps for practices to consider while transitioning to a new EHR:

Make a Plan

Develop an implementation plan with the vendor for the execution of tasks with a timeline and quality control procedures. Include information such as responsibility; assign a group (your practice or the company) and a lead for each step.

Customization

Most EHR systems are standardized. However, many of the screens and templates can be adapted to fit the needs of your practice. The process of customizing an EHR involves creating templates for typical visits, flow sheets for frequent vital signs, and configuring a list of preferences for diagnoses, medications, and tests. It is important to involve both the vendor and staff in the process of confirming the system is customized in a way that is most efficient for providers and staff.

Customize the CDS Function

Setting up the CDS (clinical decision support) function to make sure it supports the practices goals is the next step. Physician input is crucial for ensuring that this function assists them in delivering optimal care.

Workflows

Initial workflow planning should take place in the early planning stages for EHR selection. Be certain that the EHR functions and CDS interventions conform to workflows in your practice.

Training

Once the system has been set up providers and staff must learn how to use it. When scheduling training with the vendor it is important to consider the following best practices:

  • Designate “super users” for vendor training
  • Assign super users to train and help others
  • If applicable, have staff enter patient information into the EHR as training

System Testing

Conduct numerous tests before ensuring that your EHR works correctly. Below are some helpful tips on testing:

  • Identify a lead person in charge of testing.
  • Review the vendor’s testing plan to determine if any revisions are necessary.
  • Make a record of the test date, individual responsible, and results.
  • Correct any system issues found.

Data Entry

Once the system has been tested, enter all patient data into the system. Scanned files provide limited value, so it is recommended to save only the most relevant information from the current files.

Other important things to consider:

  • What information should we include in the EHR and who will be responsible?
  • Timeline
  • Who will pull, sort, and scan existing records (if applicable)?

Pilot Test

Make sure employees test the EHR before launch. This test will confirm that data has been entered properly and can be processed, stored and accessed correctly. This test should also confirm:

  • Interfaces are working properly
  • Workflows are in sync with clinical practices
  • Alerts appear correctly
  • Report accuracy

Although the vendor should be responsible for conducting these tests, it is beneficial to have staff involved with this process. Be sure to document all test results.

Launch

This is the first day the system will be used by someone who is in patient care. Before using the EHR in patient encounters, this is like a dress-rehearsal. Ask staff to test EHR functions and contact the help desk if they run into issues. Make sure to put protocols in place in the event of a malfunction or system crash. It is also recommended to keep paper charts available for patient visits, in the case a clinician runs into an issue.