While there are many potential benefits of Electronic Health Records (EHR), initially implementing an EHR (or EMR) system into your workflow can be challenging.
Implementing a new EHR system can temporarily and negatively disrupt workflow operations. It can be difficult to access or electronically store a patient’s record before this process is completed. Physicians also argue that an EHR system can be difficult to use and require hours of training.
While these EHR implementation issues are very difficult or nearly impossible to avoid, here are a few tips to avoid common issues physicians face when implementing a new system.
1. Assume the process will be difficult and time consuming. When initially implementing an EHR system, some hospitals and clinics assume there will be no disruption of workflow or productivity. This sets high standards for the implementation process, leading to frustrations when it proves to be more difficult. You must understand that there will be a period of reduced productivity and required learning. It also takes a considerable amount of time to implement an EHR and to learn how to properly use one to its full extent. Understanding these difficulties from the start and allotting a reasonable installation time frame can ease the overall EHR implementation process.
2. Hire additional help. Along with disrupted workflow, a new EHR system will require a learning period, which will create more work for hospital and clinic staff. To minimize the workload for employees, you may want to hire additional temporary staff. It may also be beneficial to hire EHR implementation consultants or EHR training consultants to ease the process as much as possible.
3. Understand and communicate potential workflow changes. Transitioning from paper to electronic records can completely change your workflow. Physicians and staff who are use to carrying around and jotting notes in paper charts now have to enter information electronically at computer workstations. Executives need to communicate this type of workflow change the staff can expect and establish EHR expectations accordingly. Indicating the expected changes early on in the EHR implementation process allows the staff to prepare for these changes, leading to better implementation and less frustrations. They will be able to effectively help with the process and be more accepting of the new EHR system.