Monday, December 16, 2013

Ten Tips for EHR Implementation for a Physician's Practice

Published by Pradip Sengupta, CEO of IPS Technology Services

As the qualifying date for application to get incentive dollars ($44K per physician) is approaching fast, the level of interest in EHR implementation is increasing at a faster rate. After all, if a physician practice can get large incentive dollars to upgrade their technology environment, then why not use this opportunity to get some of the hard earned tax dollars back from the government and make the practice more efficient and save some money!!
So, where is the catch? There is none … the Government is investing over $20B to upgrade healthcare technology to get good ROI such as, reduction of fraudulent activities, cost savings, improvement in efficiency, implementation of preventive healthcare, and improvement in quality of patient care. The Government wants to make sure that the dollar invested is not wasted and it is asking you to implement the EHR technology and prove that you are using it meaningfully (meaningful use) based on a set of criteria.
It is needless to say that the implementation of EHR technology must be handled with proper care. It is widely accepted that EHR technology will require a higher level of IT sophistication for a physician’s practice and its implementation should not be short sighted. An EHR implementation must be handled as a project with start and end dates and a seasoned project manager with proven track record must be appointed to ensure good results. This, in turn, will make getting incentive dollars easier.
Here are ten tips for a physician’s practice for EHR implementation.
  • Select one Key Decision Maker as Champion – Select one of the practice partners as the champion of your EHR project. It will help decision making process smoother and it will remove barriers to implementation. A partner will also be motivated to ensure project success since he/she is a better position to realize benefits.
  • Workflow, Workflow, Workflow – Since you don’t want to automate a bad process, you need to use the current workflow and identify improvement opportunities and then, apply new technology.
  • EHR Functionality = Business Requirements – Make sure you understand what your practice needs and select an EHR vendor/software that would meet or exceed your business needs. It shouldn’t be the other way around.
  • Acknowledge the Impact of Change – One of the most frequent reasons for IT project failures is to under-estimate the impact of change brought by a new process and technology to your practice. It is very important to acknowledge the impact of change first and then address it to handle it appropriately.
  • Don’t Hurry up and Wait – Implementation of EHR will cause a huge impact on the practice. There is no magic wand that you can wave to make EHR implementation quicker than normal … your best bet is to “understand and anticipate issues” and plan accordingly. Discuss and review project plan with the Project Manager and address what needs to be accomplished to meet implementation timeline. Rushing it will only exacerbate the situation and make implementation longer.
  • Focus on Training, a Lot – Training existing users in new technology is fundamentally important for a drastic change like Healthcare reform. It can’t be over emphasized. You should anticipate that your employees will be less productive during the first few weeks of implementation. You need to make sure to provide adequate training to all so that they can come up to speed quickly. This will produce benefits sooner than later.
  • Don’t Look Back – Once you start the implementation project, don’t look back and over analyze thinking that you shouldn’t have agreed to implement this and that you shouldn’t have taken the risk. Acknowledge that you are already in it. It will help and your team (practice) if you focus all your energy to implement this technology with full force.
  • Assess Risks and Mitigate them Systematically – Make sure to weigh in all aspects of EHR implementation, “why” you are doing it, and the results you want to achieve. Develop strategies on how to handle all anticipated options and mitigation of risks.
  • Set up an Issue Resolution Process –A process to get feedback from users and key stake holders must be developed to make sure business issues are addressed on time and resolved quickly.  
  • Establish Criteria and Measure Progress – Establish criteria for success and develop a well understood process to measure progress. This will help take any corrective actions and also ensure that the project team is doing all the right things to achieve anticipated results.
Given the above critical guidelines for EHR implementation, the key thing for a physicians practice is to understand that it must treat EHR implementation as a project and appoint a project manager. A good project manager can ease the pain of change and ensure benefits for an EHR implementation.

To know more about Healthcare IT implementation best practices, feel free to call IPS Technology Services at 248-835-9895 or go to

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