The decision to implement an EHR/EMR should not be looked at as a sprint to get just the incentive money. It should be looked at like a marathon. A sprint is a short distance goal that helps you achieve the end goal of winning a marathon. Way too many practices are trying to do a quick sprint and get an EHR in place to get the instant gratification of the quick money. An EHR implamentation should be looked at as a marathon with goals to create an efficient, better health record for not only the patients but for the medical staff as well.
Decisions you make should be based on your goals and your current state of medical records and the EHR you currently own. You will need to choose and install the software and hardware components to help achieve that end goal. So your sprint is the startup of the implementation. You need to have an end goal of what you are really working towards. What is the overall outcome you want to achieve with your EHR/EMR?
So many times I have heard a physician or even an administrator state “We will do this because its mandated, however we are still going to maintain paper charts.” Then they are very upset with those that made it mandatory and complaining that their staff has no time for entry of data and that the patient wait time has increased. To point out the obvious, yes ,the staff really don’t have time to make all those entries since they are entering the data in two different places. What a surprise the patient wait time has increased, you just doubled the amount of work your staff has to do a simple check in of a patient.
Do you plan to just use the EHR and still maintain paper charts? Really, you want to make your employees do double the work. How does that make any office more efficient? In the long run your staff will become very agitated that they have to do double the work compared to an office that is probably right next door. That could lead to turnover of knowledgeable seasoned employees. Or create an “Oh well attitude” of if they want me to do this much work, then they will have to pay overtime.
The following are some rookie mistakes to avoid that have been made with an EHR/EMR.
- Circumventing the system to use paper – cut down on one piece of paper once a week.
- Support – ensure there is an EHR user support program in place.
- Underestimation – do not underestimate yourself, your staff and their abilities.
- Double Bind situation – don’t create a conflicting message for your staff or yourself.
Keep this in mind as you are starting up your EHR, or training for your marathon. If it’s your first time you have very little experience to draw from. For many, the goal is simply to finish. After finishing your first round and once you have established guidelines and goals, you can then set realistic long term goals for the next stage and consider your ultimate outcome of how the EHR works best for your organization.
As you gain experience, you can expect to see your pace and the pace of your staff gradually increase as you improve your overall level of efficiency. Keep a journal of your workflow changes so you can see your overall improvements as you progress.