OK, now you are sold on upgrading your Healthcare IT and you have already selected the software based on business requirements and goals. What do you do now? How do you make sure that your EHR is successfully implemented and how do you know that you will achieve all potential benefits and ROI as expected?
Here are FIVE major factors that are often forgotten or not fully considered in an EHR implementation. It is quite common that the stakeholders of EHR implementation know about them but choose not to pay attention or ignore them to cut costs. However, if any of the following factors are neglected or not thought through to develop a project plan, an EHR implementation may not produce desired results… as a matter of fact, it may end up in a disaster.
The FIVE critical success factors are:
1. Workflow Definition – In order to get the best out of an EHR installation a practice must have ALL its processes identified and documented with clarity. These process logical flow diagrams must also identify all data that transfer from one process to the other as well as from step to step within a process. The better the definition of workflow, easier will be the EHR implementation.
2. Work Standardization – It is not uncommon to find different physicians within the same practice use a “slightly” different version of the same process. This may be due to physicians’ preferences or bias towards a particular type or test or medicine or procedure based on their years of experience. While it is expected to have variations within the same workflow, the goal should be to minimize it as much as possible to improve quality of services and reduce costs. Whatever the case may be (more variation or less), all process deviations must be well understood and documented for better and quicker implementation of EHR.
3. Software Configuration – One of the major factors to ensure successful implementation is to pay a tremendous emphasis on software configuration which is defined as the process of setting up the EHR package based on business requirements and business goals. For example, if a physicians practice has five locations and it wants to see billing summary information and patient medical history by location as well as by physician, it needs to be documented so that the EHR software can incorporate it during set up.
4. Project Plan and its Execution – EHR software implementation is not a one transaction type activity such as installation of a desktop software, or setting up of a PC, or a phone system. EHR implementation must be viewed as a project with multiple transactions among multiple parties. EHR implementation must have a plan with specific deliverables, tasks, and a time line. In order to increase the probability of success, project activities must be monitored by stakeholders on a regular basis to ensure proper execution.
5. Training – One of the major activities that is also often ignored is appropriate amount of training given to ALL critical players. A practice may decide to cut the training plan short to save money. However, adequate training must be considered as a necessary evil and a mandatory task to get maximum return on investment. Without adequate training and support productivity of the organization will suffer due the change brought by a new tool such as EHR and it will be doomed for failure. The EHR project champion must plan properly and allocate training dollars to get project benefit for the practice.
To conclude, the take away from this short article is to understand that an EHR implementation must be treated as a project and the probability of success will improve significantly provided the practice appoints a seasoned project manager. A good project manager will make sure that the project objectives are met and benefits for an EHR implementation are achieved through the development and execution of a detailed project plan.
To know more about Healthcare IT implementation best practices, feel free to call IPS Technology Services at 248-835-9895 or go to http://www.ipstechnologyservices.com/
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