6 lessons learned from EHR implementation

6 lessons learned from EHR implementation

When it comes to implementing electronic health records, organization is key. EHR implementation can be an extremely intimidating task, especially if the health care system has to connect to an electronic health record system over more than one hospital, according to Becker's Hospital Review. Though implementation can be different from one health care center to another, there are a number of universal methods that can help centers stay organized across the board. However, deciding to implement EHRs is different for everyone and may come with a few lessons learned along the way.

Here are a few pieces of information learned from EHR implementation from a number of Regional Extension Centers, according to Health IT as well as Ben Clark, vice president and CIO of a Centra Health based in Lynchburg, Va.

1. Coordinate with the health information exchange in your vicinity
According to Health IT, identifying the requirements for connecting to your local health information exchange is important when implementing EHRs. One must identify the ways to access the electronic results through peer communication. Not only will it benefit the overall communication, but it can also be more beneficial by collecting multiple vendors rather than simply building connections.

2. The transition from paper charts to electronic health records needs to be fast
For the EHR implementation process to run smoothly, it is crucial to act quickly in the transition. The shorter the length of time it takes to implement the EHRs, the better the chance of success, according to Health IT. If the process doesn't move fast enough, a practice may get frustrated and give up on the implementation entirely.

3. There must be leadership in the process
Clark told Becker's Hospital Review that successful EHR implementation "starts at the top." In other words, CEO's, senior vice presidents and anyone else who reigns at the head of a practice should be making EHR implementation a top priority.

4. Funding should be able to cover training, too
Not only should there be enough money to fund the EHR implementation in general, there should also be enough to fund the training that goes into the new system for the process to be functional. Training should be one of the top priorities – Clark told the source that training should take about six weeks.

5. Assign fewer patients per staff member at initial implementation period
According to Health IT, reducing patient volume per staff member during the initial period of implementation can help reduce the anxiety of the workers. In turn, this can benefit the overall performance of the practice. The source recommends scheduling all appointments during the "go-live" period as if they were new patients.

6. EHRs might disrupt workflow during initial implementation process
Clark told Becker's Hospital Review that one of the biggest challenges he faced during EHR implementation was the disruption of the workflow, for the nurses in particular. Your practice may need to invest in additional training to help staff get used to the new workflow. The initial transition means staff technically have to work in two worlds – electronic and paper – which may cause a disruption in the workflow.