Ready, Set, WAIT – EMR Implementation

A successful transition from paper to an electronic-based practice starts with having an understanding of the system functionality, analyzing the staff’s readiness, and preparing for a fundamental change in office workflow for EMR Implementation.  When the time comes to purchase a system these first steps can prepare you for a successful future.

First take an unbiased look at your culture, leadership, strategy and technical readiness.  This initiative will be take a team effort and before jumping in it’s a good idea to prepare your staff for these changes.
If you have a group practice, begin discussing time and money that the acquisition will require.  Let your practice manager help with analyzing vendors and doing the legwork.  Be prepared to compromise as everyone will have differing opinions.
The success of an EMR implementation hinges on a leader in the office who guides the change process.  A physician is the best choice although through our experience, a quality employee, who has the skill to keep the team on track, can be invaluable.
Consider creating a continuous training regimen for new employees.  One week of training by the vendor is usually efficient, but by making notes and keeping a workflow sheet for each position, you can keep the components of the given information on hand in case someone needs a refresher.
Try and keep everyone in the loop.  Managing and motivating staff is the most challenging part of a medical office.  The paperwork is overwhelming and the practice depends heavily on the skills of the employees and their ability to multitask.  Emphasize to your team that using these new devices can help automate many routine, time consuming tasks and improve some of the more complex processes.
What will it look like when it’s finished?
Remember that the changes you make will impact the patient experience. Consider the following:
Will patients enter their medical histories or information on their present illness on a computer in a kiosk in the waiting room?  Can they do this on the patient portal over the Web?  How will they react to new equipment in the exam room?
What are the requirements for HIPPA for patient emails?  Is this how we should communicate with them? 
Your practice must be prepared to reinvent, re-engineer, and improve its patient-oriented processes.  It goes along with implementing a new system.  With all the work that goes into this process, we might as well make it better than it ever was.
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