Common EHR Implementation Challenges & How to Avoid Them
Posted by Janna Vienca Cañezal
Purchasing EHR software is only half the battle. From coordinating time and resources, getting your staff on board, and potential loss of productivity, incorporating a new EHR into your practice’s workflows presents various challenges that can jeopardize the success of your investment. Thankfully, there are several steps you can take to ensure a seamless EHR software implementation. Whether you're switching EHRs or starting with an electronic system for the first time, keep in mind these common EHR implementation challenges and learn how to avoid them.
Unexpected EHR Implementation Costs
Modernizing health records is always a wise investment. However, implementing a new EHR system is not always a one-time payment. Plan ahead and budget for indirect and ongoing costs when implementing a new EHR. For example, EHR training takes time away from your profit-generating activities. Prepare your practice for a potential but temporary decrease in profits.
EHR systems that don't use cloud technology will require you to purchase on-premise servers and pay maintenance fees. If most of your staff are technically challenged, then you might need to invest more resources in helping them to make the most of your EHR. You may also need to spend money on overtime pay and free lunches during implementation.
To adhere to the HIPAA security rule, protecting patient information and enhancing cybersecurity measures can also cost your practice. You might need to upgrade firewalls and related security software, spend on cybersecurity training, create cloud backups, implement security protocols, and more.
Not Everyone Will Be On Board
For a successful EHR implementation, you will need everyone to be on board during the transition. However, not everyone will be open to the change. Switching to another EHR may mean additional work on top of your staff's existing workload. One way to increase staff buy-in is to involve your practice leaders in the EHR selection process. Your leaders can then champion the selected EHR to their members. When you give your staff a role in the selection process, they can also provide additional input for a successful EHR implementation.
The barriers to EHR implementation may differ between various groups. A nurse's objections can vary from a physician's or an IT employee’s. Meet with your team, address these concerns, and communicate your vision of an efficient practice. Help them understand how this change will expedite their day-to-day tasks in the long run.
Training for a new system drains your staff's time and productivity. Your team needs to add extra time and effort to understand the new system on top of a busy workload. Anticipate the loss of productivity, the decrease in patient visits, and low workflow efficiency as your staff gets acclimated to the new EHR. Try to minimize productivity loss by planning ahead and scheduling EHR training by group. During the EHR selection phase, ask possible vendors about their implementation process, so there are fewer surprises when starting to use the software.
Lastly, accept that there will always be productivity loss, no matter how much you plan ahead, as your staff adjusts to new tools and procedures. Ensure that your team invests time and effort during their training so that this downtime will be worthwhile.
Poorly Executed Data Migration
You're finally using your new EHR system, but you notice that a patient's information seems missing or incomplete. When not appropriately mapped, data migration increases the risk of data integrity issues and affects the quality of patient care. Whether you're hiring a third party or using your EHR vendor's team, data migration requires careful planning and complete attention from management.
Start by assigning a point of contact from different departments to create a plan of action and verify data accuracy. You'll need clinicians who will verify clinical data, billers to verify billing transactions, the front desk to verify appointment-related information, etc. Agree on the type and scope of data to be transferred. Before agreeing to a full migration, request a test environment where you can review and verify data accuracy. Double-check patient demographics, clinical data, date of services, among others.
Lack of Proper Planning and Communication
EHR software implementation is an extensive endeavor that no one should take lightly. It brings in a shift in the workplace that's more than just a technology upgrade. If there's no strategic planning involved or you receive zero commitment from your staff, the implementation will not be as effective as you hoped. However, proper planning and preparation will help you avoid some of the most common EHR implementation challenges. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) recommends seven key steps for EHR implementation planning, namely:
- Map Out Your Current State
- Plan Your Future State
- Plan for Contingencies
- Build an EHR Implementation Plan
- Plan for Chart Migration
- Understand Data Elements
- Start Thinking About Privacy and Security
Effective communication between your practice and your EHR vendor is essential for a successful implementation. As training progresses, your staff will have questions and workflow concerns about the software. You’ll need to reach out to your EHR vendor for the answers. Choose an EHR software company that gives you prompt attention during the implementation phase.
Choosing the Wrong EHR Vendor
Buying a new EHR software can sometimes feel like shopping for clothes online. It looks great on the website and has positive reviews. But when you finally try it on for the first time, it doesn't fit you the way you need. You visit a tailor to save your initial investment and adjust it to your exact measurements, costing you even more money.
With IMS, though, you can get it right the first time. IMS is fully-customizable, so you'll have everything you need and nothing you don't. Our team tailors the implementation process according to your practice's needs. You will get a dedicated project manager who works with you every step of the way to ensure a seamless transition. Take the first step to a better practice today and see your practice grow.