Implementing a new EHR is a huge undertaking with significant financial impacts. Healthcare organizations are spending millions of dollars to purchase an EHR system that will streamline patient care, improve paper-based documentation processes, and facilitate quality improvement efforts. Hospitals have invested a significant amount of time into researching software companies, comparing prices, evaluating key features and functionality, negotiating costs with vendors and insurance companies, etc.
Given the significant financial and time investments, it is important to ensure that your EHR investment is maximized. This blog post will discuss how hospital leaders can maximize their EHR investment initiatives:
1. Develop a clear and compelling vision for the digital future of your organization.
Engage physicians, staff, and end-users in the vision for the digital future so that they all feel connected to it. You want everyone from the frontline staff to the bedside nurses, doctors, and physicians to be invested in the vision of a digital future for your organization. You can achieve this by communicating with physicians, end-users, and staff about the EHR implementation. Make sure you let them know why you are implementing an EHR system. Give them all ample opportunities to understand the vision of a digital future for your organization and where the EHR system fits within that vision. Ensure they know the benefits of a better user interface, mobile access to patient data from anywhere at any time, and streamlining clinical documentation processes so that they are more efficient. The digital future includes:
- Focusing on population health management, outcome & cost improvement, and better patient care
- Improving physician and staff efficiencies through automation
- Streamlining back-office administrative tasks, and reducing reliance on paper-based documentation processes
- Effectively engaging frontline staff and physicians on the desire and benefits of a digital future
2. Streamline documentation and clinical workflow.
The second step is to streamline clinical documentation and workflow as much as possible. The EHR implementation should include workflow processes that will ensure that physicians are not duplicating work or spending more time documenting than providing care to patients. The EHR system should be streamlined so that physicians can easily access the information they need to provide care and write notes. This will improve physician productivity, reduce physician burnout, and improve clinical documentation accuracy—all of which are critical factors in ensuring you have a healthy workforce.
3. Provide training to physicians and staff on the EHR system.
This will help users become more familiar with the functionalities and features of the EHR system, and it will ensure that users utilize the software efficiently. Training should be provided to physicians and staff on how to effectively use the system so that there are no gaps in functionality or features. Training should also focus on workflow processes and best practices when using the EHR system. A few ideas on what user training sessions should cover include:
- How the EHR system enhances health care delivery, reduces costs of healthcare, and improves staff efficiency
- Best practices on how to document information within the EHR system to ensure it is as efficient as possible
- How to use messaging within the EHR system effectively so that physicians are not duplicating work or spending more time documenting than providing care to patients
- How to build templates in the EHR system so that physicians can easily complete documentation without spending more time than necessary
- How to locate patient information using the search function within the software
4. Choose EHR vendors that are committed to ongoing transformation and improving their products.
You want a vendor that will be responsive to your needs as they change over time. This could include enhancements of the core system, additional modules, and the ability to integrate with other applications. Hospitals are moving toward a digital future, and EHR vendors will need to be flexible as healthcare organizations implement new technologies that enhance the patient care experience.
5. Communicate with your vendor about the EHR implementation and ongoing transformation of the system.
You want to make sure you are communicating with your vendor representative about all of the changes that you want to be made to the EHR system, such as:
- New features that should be added to streamline workflow processes
- Modifications that should be made to workflows processes so that physicians and staff can use them more efficiently
- Additional modules that should be added to the EHR system
- Enhancements that should be made to functionalities and features of the EHR system
6. Consider your current and future workflow processes to determine the right EHR system for your organization.
If you are only going to be managing a relatively small number of patients on an outpatient basis, then a system that supports the creation and management of patient records will suffice.
7. Consider how you would like your organization's future to look.
Do you want to grow the number of patients that you are treating? Are there plans to expand your facility and add new services and departments? Will the workflow processes change? You must consider all of these factors when choosing an EHR system so that the processes you create are scalable.
Choosing the right EHR system for your organization is important and will help you provide better care to patients. It may seem like a daunting task, but if you think about how your company's future will look down the road 3-5 years from now, it'll be easier to determine which vendor would best suit your needs. If all of this sounds overwhelming or confusing because you don't know where to start, our team of healthcare experts is here to offer guidance on what questions should go into making an informed decision when choosing between vendors. Our goal is not just to get hospitals up and running with their new systems—we want them investing in something that they can grow with over time as well! Let us know if we can answer any other questions.