4 Questions to Ask Before EHR Implementation

Implementing an EHR for your practice results in Ibuprofen abuse without proper planning. However, ensuring your practice is prepared is often cumbersome, and online research can lead to dead-ends and roundabout explanations.

How do you plan for EHR implementation? How do you prepare your practice? Below is a list of four questions to ask yourself before implementing your new EHR.

Is My Practice Ready?
The first step is foundational – a practice must first determine if it’s ready to transition from paper records to EHRs, or whether it’s prepared to upgrade their current electronic system to a certified product.

Planning for EHR implementation helps physicians and office managers determine what needs to be worked on. The staff should reflect on the practice’s financial and clinical readiness during the switch.

There are questions physicians and office managers can pose when preparing their assessment, such as:

  • Is my practice financially ready to purchase additional hardware if need be?
  • Is my staff computer literate? Does my practice have a reliable, high-speed Internet connection?

Office managers should keep an eye on the future, too. The needs of patients, providers and staff need to be taken into account before determining the specific goals and needs to be assessed before implementing an EHR.

The ONC’s National Learning Consortium recommends the SMART method for setting clinical, revenue and work environment goals:

  • Specific: goals would make a difference for patients and practice.
  • Measureable: goals can be quantified.
  • Attainable: goals are achievable.
  • Relevant: goals are worth the struggle.
  • Time bound: goals are encapsulated by deadlines.

Do I Have a Plan?
Before implementing an EHR, formulate a plan to identify the correct order of tasks to be performed and relayed to your staff.

Implementation planning begins with analysis of the practice’s current workflow and administrative processes. Later, physicians and office managers should work to discern how EHR implementation will improve inefficiencies in the workflow.

Remember to design a contingency plan to troubleshoot issues that arise during implementation.

Ensure your staff knows what data will be migrated from your old system to your current one, such as patient demographics and medication history. Lastly, single out concerns regarding security issues that may arise as a result of implementation.

How Do I Choose a Vendor?
After narrowing down a list of certified EHR options, ensure the product will accomplish your practice’s goals. Provide potential vendors with common patient and office scenarios they can use to cater their demonstrations to your practice.

Ask vendors to clarify start-up pricing. For instance, if your EHR is a cloud-based, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), expect a monthly or periodic subscription fee and no hardware costs. If you prefer the services an independent software vendor offers, learn about the cost of software, recurring updates and ongoing hardware costs.

Lastly, note specifications about implementation support, data migration strategies if need be, server options and any necessary privacy and security capacities. It wouldn’t hurt to read up on your vendor’s reputation and market presence in your region.

Will Implementation Help My Practice Evolve?
Evaluating the implementation process will determine whether your EHR will help your practice become more efficient. Once your EHR is installed and staff training is complete, a list of questions should be formulated and asked recurrently. Sample items include:

  • Do workflow and administrative processes need reevaluation? If so, why?
  • Is additional training required?
  • Is the technology more difficult to use than expected?
  • Is the technology fast enough to handle my practices needs?
  • Do my staff members need role readjustments?

In many cases, the implementation process turns out differently than planned, and your practice should continue evaluating workflow and administrative processes to ensure you’re achieving staff and patient satisfaction.

What steps have you taken to prepare your practice for EHR implementation?

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