How to Prepare Your Staff When Switching EHRs
Posted by Janna Vienca Cañezal
Switching EHRs, or starting with an electronic system for the first time, is never easy. After carefully selecting the right EHR for your practice comes the point that is almost as challenging, the implementation phase. Thankfully, your practice can take a few key steps to ensure implementation and switching EHRs is a breeze.
To make an EHR implementation successful, you will need everyone to be on board during the transition. However, not everyone will be open to the change. There’s no getting around it, the changes required when switching to another EHR mean additional work on top of a practice’s existing workload.
It’s only natural for there to be resistance, but there are ways to lessen that burden and a better EHR is always worth it.
Plan, Communicate, and Inspire
Good planning and preparation are important pieces to any successful endeavor. Layout your vision for the upcoming change in EHRs and communicate it to your staff. Let them know the reason behind this transition and how it will positively impact them individually and the organization. Help them understand how this change will improve their day-to-day tasks.
“Having a positive and enthusiastic leadership is one of the keys in getting your whole staff involved,” says Hannah Weasley, Implementation Lead here at Meditab. “Assign a leader in your practice, whether that is the provider or office manager, to be a champion of positive change. If they see a leader that is enthusiastic about the new changes, the rest of the staff is more likely to stay positive and want to learn the new system. It makes all the difference.”
Clearly Define Job Roles and Responsibilities
Before going into the implementation phase, clearly defined job roles serve as the essential foundation when laying out your training roadmap. Train your staff based on their roles and responsibilities and only on the EHR functions they will use daily.
For example, your front desk staff doesn’t need to learn the billing-related functions of your EHR. Instead, they can focus only on scheduling patients, the check-in process, and patient communication.
It’s counterproductive to train employees on every function of an EHR if they’re not expected to perform those functions. Doing so lengthens training time and might affect the staff’s ability to retain the required information. If they can see that they will require less time for training, they’d be more willing to take the challenge.
Set Expectations During the Implementation Phase
Practices can get very busy, and that is a challenge in itself during the implementation process. Staff might not show up during their scheduled sessions, and if they do, they are not 100% engaged and are doing something else. On top of training, your staff will still need to do their regular work, and more than a few are tempted to do just that while on the training.
Barbara Leigh-Myers, Meditab’s Training Manager, a longtime veteran of implementation projects, explains, “The staff needs to be prepared to dedicate time during the implementation phase. They have to show up on time and do the homework assigned to them.”
Set expectations that everyone must attend their sessions, be fully engaged, and practice what they learned. To minimize stress, your staff needs to learn the software now rather than after you've already gone live.
Assign Superusers with Each Area of Expertise
Implementation Specialist Liza Zuretti advises, “Identify superusers in each area of your practice. Superusers will be the go-to persons if your staff have any questions regarding the EHR.” With that in mind, superusers must be equipped and trained in all aspects of the EHR so that they will be able to teach and provide guidance to others.
An important quality to consider when choosing a superuser is a person’s computer skills and the ability to keep up with changing technology. It should be somebody who is excited about adopting the new EHR and is willing to help others learn the new system.
The superuser’s role is useful in adopting the EHR into the office workflow and any improvements long after you go-live. Combined with their extensive knowledge of the system and the office, designating superusers is an effective strategy for a seamless EHR transition.
Evaluate the Process and Provide Feedback
During implementation, hold periodic meetings with your staff to assess the ongoing training, see how each department is doing, and evaluate how the EHR will affect their current workflow. Superusers can meet within themselves to share how their workflow within the EHR can affect others.
After the implementation, gather feedback on how your staff feels about making the switch. Conducting these meetings helps determine inefficiencies or other concerns that may hinder your practice from getting the most of your EHR.
What to Do on Your Go-Live Date
A Go-Live date is an agreed-upon date set by both the EHR Implementation Team and the practice wherein you will be using your new EHR in your actual clinical setting.
Liza recommends minimizing appointments and not having a full schedule on that day, giving your staff time to adjust to using a new EHR. The first time using a new system in front of a patient might feel overwhelming for your staff, so you might want to give space between appointments.
Are You Looking to Make the Switch?
Just like all good things, proper implementation of an EHR takes time. As you receive feedback from your staff regarding the EHR, you will need to reach out to your EHR vendor to find possible solutions for your concerns.
It is essential to find an EHR vendor that supports your practice and gives the prompt attention you deserve during and after implementation. The amount of support they give you can have a dramatic effect during this critical phase. That’s why the company itself is such an important thing to consider when choosing an EHR. More than just a software, your EHR should be a trusted partner that you can rely on, and ultimately, set you up for success.
Meditab has been in the healthcare industry for more than 20 years and has implemented IMS, Meditab’s flagship software, for thousands of clinics across the United States. We take pride in being with you every step of the way, right from the first introduction call up to your day-to-day operations after implementation.