‘Change is inevitable’ — a cliched statement but true where industries and organizations are concerned. Industries like IT &ITES, BT, Automotive etc. are very adaptable to change. Grabbing on to the latest technology is like a necessity for them to keep themselves ahead in the race. However, when it comes to change, healthcare industry is the one which takes extremely calculated risks. Any new technology, introduced to the Physicians, takes a longer period for acceptance.
With EHR becoming a necessity and to some extent, a kind of compulsion, physicians are forcing themselves to accept this new technology. The experts, who pioneer at pen and paper work, are finding it extremely difficult to accept this sudden change. An Emergency Department research showed that 44% of a physician’s time was spent in just entering data in the EHR. This is followed by 28% spent in direct patient care and 12% interacting and discussing with colleagues. Implementing EHR software is inevitable and the physicians have no choice but to embrace it. Just before you plunge into the decision of EHR implementation, here are 6 things you should know about it:
- Don’t make an impulsive decision — EHRs are designed by many and for a big market. They are not designed to fit into everything, but to stand out with their own unique features. Before making that big decision of owning an EHR, spend time to research and find out which one fits your practice. EHR resellers and vendors come up with exciting offers but be extremely cautious about the choice you make. Do not get carried away, and never make an impulsive decision.
- Prioritize your priorities – What is the objective of the EHR in your workflow? Before taking the big decision, conduct a proper survey of all available EHR solutions. Not just a single survey, but a detailed and segmented survey based on the return on investments, attributes of the care, operation efficiency, adaptability, risks and obligations etc. You need to understand which areas will have the most significant impact on your practice workflows and which EHR answers your queries better. Prioritize the priorities based on each workflow.
- Have a POA (Plan of action) – Have your final plan of action in place. Whether your EHR implementation will be successful or not depends on this plan of action. Your plan should be comprehensive with details of when it will be implemented, who are the people who would be closely involved in this practice, when to do the refresher training etc. The plan should also have the training stage, project management stage, refreshers and trial runs, when to go live, who will be involved in the transition phase and who will provide support etc. This POA has to be a comprehensive ready reckoner to look back for reference on what to do next.
- Bring all in sync – So now you are ready to implement the EHR, and it is in place. Before you go live you need to have the entire team, not just the physicians, trained. Staff like nurse, laboratory technicians, and other admin related teams who are involved in entering and updating data into the EHR should also be involved in the training. Getting a trainer from the EHR vendor or the reseller is a better option, as the clarity will be much higher. The training should preferably be conducted together, so that all of them are kept in sync with each other.
- Prepare for the change – Many practices make this mistake of training their staff after the EHR is implemented. This is not suggested as there will be an aversion towards the implemented change. Suddenly telling your staff to stop writing on a piece of paper and start typing the data on the system will not go down well. However, when you have a training and you have already introduced the product to your colleagues, they get the confidence of using it and will look forward to using it diligently.
- Have refreshers – It’s not a ‘fix and forget’ kind of a system. Once the training is done, and the EHR goes live, you have to keep checking the progress of your team performance. Initially, once in a month and later twice a year should be great. Meanwhile, many would have come up with trial and error methods and would have found shortcuts for complicated systems. With knowledge sharing, you can improve the efficiency of not an individual, but an entire team.
Many practices implement EHR vehemently but fail to keep track and do not update it. In spite of investing in EHRs they drop out of the HITECH incentive program due to poor training system and education. They then go back to the old pen and paper system. Although all EHRs are meant to increase the office efficiency, in reality they only improve the life of office personnel but have failed to increase the efficiency for the physician. This has made, most (if not all) providers complain that EHRs have slowed them down. Unfortunately, a physician plays the most important role in the office because it is he who yields the ROI with EHR implementation more than others. However, CareCloud addresses this issue and is the first EHR designed in such a manner that it will help improve a physician’s efficiency from the beginning.
Understanding the EHR system, just before and after its implementation, will take the healthcare industry a long way. Smart adaption of EHR software puts hospitals on the fast track and qualifies them for incentive funds available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.