Healthcare News & Insights

Is your organization ready for EHR?

Electronic health records (EHRs) can help medical practices greatly improve their efficiency and patient care. But trying to implement a system before the organization is ready can have expensive consequences.

Those unintended consequences can include more work for provider staff and increased frustration among doctors, nurses, and administrators, as well as lower patient trust and satisfaction. In worst case scenarios, improper EHR implementations can even cause harm to patients.

To avoid those problems, here’s a checklist healthcare providers can use to determine that they’re ready for an EHR implementation, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality:

  1. All necessary staff members have at least basic computer skills. If not, they should receive some basic training before an EHR system is planned.
  2. Doctors, nurses and staff members are on board for the implementation. In addition to being able to use the system, EHRs will only be effective if people want to use the system. That may require communicating the benefits to those who resist change.
  3. The EHR implementation has clear, reasonable goals. Getting federal incentive funds isn’t a good enough reason to install an EHR system – the primary goal should be to improve care for patients. Likewise, organizations shouldn’t set their sights too high and expect a new system to do things that it can’t.
  4. Metrics for evaluating success are agreed upon. After an implementation takes place, providers will need to know whether or not the system “works.”
  5. Convenient mechanisms to collect feedback from users are in place. An implementation can only be successful if organizations listen to the people who must use the system on a daily basis.
  6. The right staff members are hired or will be hired at the right time. That includes IT staff – many providers find they need to bring in temporary IT for a system installation.
  7. The conversion of old paper documents to digital form has been planned. Converting documents is often one of the biggest challenges providers face when switching to EMRs, so the process should be planned well in advance.

Electronic health records (EHRs) can help medical practices greatly improve their efficiency and patient care. But trying to implement a system before an organization is ready can have expensive consequences.

Those unintended consequences can include more work for provider staff and increased frustration among doctors, nurses, and administrators, as well as lower patient trust and satisfaction. In worst case scenarios, improper EHR implementations can even cause harm to patients.

To avoid those problems, here’s a checklist healthcare providers can use to determine that they’re ready for an EHR implementation, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality [http://www.ucguide.org/index.html]:

1. All necessary staff members have at least basic computer skills. If not, they should receive some basic training before an EHR system is planned.

2. Doctors, nurses and staff members are on board for the implementation. In addition to being able to use the system, EHRs will only be effective if people want to use the system. That may require communicating the benefits to those who resist change.

3. The EHR implementation has clear, reasonable goals. Getting federal incentive funds isn’t a good enough reason to install an EHR system – the primary goal should be to improve care for patients. Likewise, organizations shouldn’t set their sights too high and expect a new system to do things that it can’t.

4. Metrics for evaluating success are agreed upon. After an implementation takes place, providers will need to know whether or not the system

Electronic health records (EHRs) can help medical practices greatly improve their efficiency and patient care. But trying to implement a system before an organization is ready can have expensive consequences.

Those unintended consequences can include more work for provider staff and increased frustration among doctors, nurses, and administrators, as well as lower patient trust and satisfaction. In worst case scenarios, improper EHR implementations can even cause harm to patients.

To avoid those problems, here’s a checklist healthcare providers can use to determine that they’re ready for an EHR implementation, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality [http://www.ucguide.org/index.html]:

  1. All necessary staff members have at least basic computer skills. If not, they should receive some basic training before an EHR system is planned.
  2. Doctors, nurses and staff members are on board for the implementation. In addition to being able to use the system, EHRs will only be effective if people want to use the system. That may require communicating the benefits to those who resist change.
  3. The EHR implementation has clear, reasonable goals. Getting federal incentive funds isn’t a good enough reason to install an EHR system – the primary goal should be to improve care for patients. Likewise, organizations shouldn’t set their sights too high and expect a new system to do things that it can’t.
  4. Metrics for evaluating success are agreed upon. After an implementation takes place, providers will need to know whether or not the system “works.”
  5. Convenient mechanisms to collect feedback from users are in place. An implementation can only be successful if organizations listen to the people who must use the system on a daily basis.
  6. The right staff members are hired or will be hired at the right time. That includes IT staff – many providers find they need to bring in temporary IT for a system installation.
  7. The conversion of old paper documents to digital form has been planned. Converting documents is often one of the biggest challenges providers face when switching to EMRs, so the process should be planned well in advance.

“works.”

5. Convenient mechanisms to collect feedback from users are in place. An implementation can only be successful if organizations listen to the people who must use the system on a daily basis.

6. The right staff members are hired or will be hired at the right time. That includes IT staff – many providers find they need to bring in temporary IT for a system installation.

7. The conversion of old paper documents to digital form has been planned. Converting documents is often one of the biggest challenges providers face when switching to EMRs, so the process should be planned well in advance.

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