Every project brings change. Implementing an electronic health record (EHR) is no exception. For all healthcare organizations, it’s an important strategic decision and an investment in their future. As you research health IT partners and their solutions, you should include all departments to help in the selection process. Maybe you write a request for proposal (RFP), view demonstrations or go visit other healthcare organizations and watch what they do. In the end, you’ll eventually make a decision and it’s important to make sure you’ve chosen the right solution to meet the needs of your organization … not only today but for the future.
As your organization maps out its approach to choosing and selecting a technology partner or EHR, it’s important to take two things into consideration. First, the selection and implementation of a new EHR is a journey, not a destination. With the rate of change in healthcare, regulatory and compliance, and technology these days, the EHR needs to be operationalized for continuous improvement and advancement, after the initial implementation. Second, remember that change can be hard. As your organization navigates through adopting new technology, ensure you have a solid change management plan in place to facilitate the best experience possible.
Journey versus destination
Taking on a new EHR isn’t simply automating the paper process; it’s much more than that. A quality EHR platform has the potential to electronically manage many areas of an organization’s operations, from referrals to intake and assessment to patient records to revenue cycle management and beyond. That’s why it’s essential to completely understand your organization’s approach to workflows and processes that an EHR can help manage. By defining and mapping out those areas in your organization, you can optimize your EHR to meet your needs instead of you adapting to meet the needs of your EHR, while preparing it to evolve for future iterations, improvements and updates as the healthcare landscape evolves.
Skipping forward to the end of your EHR implementation, what should happen after your organization is actively using it? You adjust and change. You operationalize and continue to improve. That might include updating your onboarding process to get new people quickly up to speed, establishing internal user groups for continuous learning or creating a change control board that reviews new capabilities and determines what is applied on the next wave of improvements.
It’s this after-implementation part that most organizations don’t plan for. For many, they undergo a process of evaluation only once a situation arises that makes them relook at what they are doing with their EHR, versus proactively establishing best practices.
Identify subject matter experts
Super users or subject matter experts (SMEs) are essential to managing change and operationalizing your organization’s EHR. They are critical to the success of the launch of the project and serve to determine organizational policies and processes and how your EHR supports them. This group should be poised to stay abreast on new functionality, versions and offerings, keeping in mind the impact to both your staff and the individuals you serve. They also need to stay aware of other SME’s within your organization to help understand the impact of changes in one area on all other end users of the system.
If your SMEs feel confident in the technology that’s being implemented, they’ll be more invested in getting others on board. They must be empowered with plenty of opportunities to say current on the latest updates with your EHR by attending user groups, accessing release notes and networking with your technology partner and other users or SMEs. With a thorough knowledge of their area of expertise, they can own it and advocate the value and benefit the EHR has to offer.
Now that you are prepared to manage change, even after go-live and you have the right key players aligned, what’s next? In our next blog in this series, we explore just that. From subject matter experts to change control boards to change management, there’s more to come. Stay tuned!