Implementing digital technology is one of the fundamental choices you can make for your hospital or private clinic. Adopting an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system is just the beginning. The real challenge that awaits you is its successful implementation. Now that you’ve made up your mind and chosen software that is suitable for your needs, are there any possible ways to optimize it as well?
You obviously can’t really transition from a paper-based health record maintenance system to a paperless system overnight. It will take you some time and little more changes than you anticipated. Whether you’ve just adopted a new EHR system or just want to make your existing system more efficient, here are a few changes or tweaks if you will to make it happen:
Establish Clear Objectives
Nothing important can ever be achieved without creating a plan for it first. It should have a detailed definition of what you want to achieve with a successful EHR software is implementation. To complete this process successfully you will need the assistance of your staff which is involved in the day to day operations of your front office. Their suggestions on the workflow aspects will benefit your medical software. And also the direct feedback that they get from your patients will help you gauge your patient-practice relationship. Creating objectives isn’t a static process because they will change with time and you will have to modify them according to the changing healthcare environment and what your healthcare organization calls for.
Cost To Benefit Ratio
Select an EHR solution that is ideal for your needs and practice. The medical records system you pick should be able to accomplish everything you need for the successful functioning of your operations as well as being suitably usable by your staff and patients. Remember, its implementation entails a financial cost and you need to first determine a budget that is suitable for your organization; a budget that helps you review the platform’s benefits and how its functionalities will apply to your practice.
Leadership And Project Management
Your management team plays a critical part in the successful implementation of any healthcare software. Make sure they are on the same page as you and don’t forget to first make a micro-level transition. Yes, a small or mini transition will help you assess the effects of a complete one. Assign the whole responsibility of this little project to a team of representatives from each department and set a timeframe in which the process is to be completed.
Your health organization in the meanwhile should continue to function and assist patients
The following could be a simple plan of action that you can put in motion, to begin with the transition:
- Begin by analyzing your current workflow challenges. You can focus on simple aspects such as filing errors where the name of the patient or their date of birth gets mismatched and the like
- Then you can start by mapping out how your current workflow should apply to your new or revamped medical software application
- There will always be some unforeseen issues and you will have to think of a backup plan in case they arise
- And of course, you will need someone you can trust with the supervision of the entire transition from paper to electronic charts
To maintain a high quality of medical care all the while, you will have to know whether the newly implemented electronic healthcare solutions are working or not. You will need to compare your organization’s operations to itself. Choose a pre-implementation month and stick to it. Now compare that to a month of practice post-implementation. The data collected will help you review areas and adjust your focus and assess your tech-specific operations to better achieve your goals. Some sample questions that will help you review your current status are:
- Did you reach your initial objectives and goals post the EHR?
- Do you find any workflows that still need modifications?
- Which department of your organization requires additional training?
- Does your hospital need any additional software?
Adapting Your Workflow To Your New And Improved System
Sometimes it’s not the healthcare software system you need to modify or alter, but your existing practice workflow. You will need to rework your processes around your EHR. Access to digital data implies making attitudinal and functional changes because it comes with a lot of benefits. Work to shift the focus of your entire workflow around electronic data, and how it is used, shared, and managed.
This is a very effective way to gauge your EHR’s success. You will have to find ways to evaluate the progress of your practice. Following are a few examples of metrics that are cited from the United States Department of Health and Human Services:
- Call-backs from pharmacy to provider
- Both pre and post EHR medication error.
- Data entry backlog
- Revenues realized both pre and post EHR implementation
These metrics and many others will help you analyze your progress over a broad span of time
Give Patients The Required Access
The only way to make more sense out of your EHR systems is to ensure that it is made capable of delivering meaningful use and services to patients in need. Get your patients engaged and more involved by using this technology. Encourage them to get online. Guide them to log into your patient portal. They should use your secure messaging utility to contact you. Patient specific resources, details, statistics and information, and trends in patients’ health will help them understand and adjust their habits. Access to their electronic medical records will get them more engaged and educate them about new technologies. It further increases their confidence in self-care and also helps them understand the decisions you make as a doctor or physician.
Moving with a dedicated plan in sight is the only way to optimize your electronic healthcare solutions. This is the only way you can bring about real changes in your organizational workflow, stay fully compliant, and taste enormous success in your practice.
(Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Zapbuild)
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