Are you feeling the pain of EMR change?
Whether you’re implementing an EMR for the first time or transitioning to a new system from one that disappointed you, it’s easy to see the process as somewhat of a pain, and to some extent, it will be uncomfortable. However, with the right amount of planning and a solid purpose, you can overcome much of the pain of EMR change.
The importance of having providers who are firmly on board with the EMR transition cannot be overstated. Enthusiasm makes a big difference when going through a potentially challenging transition, so be sure your staff are all in agreement that a change needs to be made and seek to have agreement at every step of the way, from choosing a vendor to training and implementation, and beyond. This will be essential to the project’s ultimate success.
Building a budget
Just as all EMRs are not created equal, they also don’t all cost the same. In fact, the variety in pricing can be staggering. For this reason, it’s important to go into the process knowing what you can afford and what is absolutely out of the question. Then, determine what will fit into your capabilities. Remember that client-server solutions cost more up front, while using a cloud-based system will save you money in the beginning as well as in on-going, on-site IT needs. Just be sure that your practice can afford the monthly subscription fees for the cloud-based service, typically somewhere around $250 to $350 per provider per month. Finally, be sure to ask any vendors you are seriously considering for a complete, detailed cost that includes all of the following components:
- Configuration and customization
- Network fees
- IT support
- Data migration
Choose the right EMR
If you’re moving into your first EMR, you’re going to have to make some workflow changes. That’s unavoidable as your previous processes were based heavily on paper and that will change with the use of an EMR. But it’s still possible, and important, to choose the EMR that best fits in with the way your practice currently works. There’s no need to adjust more than what’s necessary. Take an inventory of how your practice operates and make sure that the EMR you choose fits in with that process well with minimal necessary adjustments.
Plan a phased implementation
It’s so important to set yourself up for success when it comes to implementing an EMR. This is not going to be an overnight transition, nor should it be. Come up with a plan, the more detailed the better. This plan should lay out exactly what will be happening, when, and who is responsible for it. In this way, you’ll know what to expect when it comes to implementation and your whole staff can be on the same page.
Optimize usage over time
An EMR is meant to make your work life more efficient and productive. This can only happen if you use it to its fullest extent. There are a few things you can do to be sure you’re optimizing your EMR usage:
- Make sure to train your staff thoroughly and specifically according to their jobs and don’t underestimate the value of close contact with your vendor and its support team.
- Allow yourself an adjustment period in which to get up to speed with your new system. At first, it may seem like everything takes a little longer, but that’s okay. Over time and with more use, you will get faster. It’s a process, but it’s worth it.
- Explore the system and try different things. There is likely more than one way to accomplish the tasks you’re trying to complete in your new system. Try a few different ways of doing things to see what works best for you.
- Keep it up to date and accurate. Quite simply, you get out what you put in, so if you put in inaccurate or incomplete data you can’t expect the EMR to magically give you amazing results. Make sure everyone on your staff understands the importance of doing their part to create a quality system.
An EMR transition feels daunting, and to say it won’t be challenging is inaccurate. It doesn’t have to be overtly difficult and it doesn’t have to be disappointing. Be intentional, take it one step at a time, and you’ll find that you’ve overcome the pain of EMR change.