Pivotal Aspects to Consider for EHR Implementation

Key Takeaways

  • Involve C-level medical professionals (CMO and CNO) and the executive staff of large hospitals to understand what problems need to be solved via EHR implementation.
  • The average cost for EHR implementation ranges between $15,000 to $70,000 per provider. The cost of EHR depends on the mode of deployment: on-site and web-based EHR or SaaS.
  • Healthcare data migration is a complex process, so it takes time to move all of it. Start with the most relevant and new records and move backward. Constantly check the timeline to control the process.

EHR (Electronic Health Records) was implemented to maintain the security of ePHI (Protected Health Information) and to reduce paperwork. Apart from this, its wide range of benefits such as easy access to medical records, e-prescribing, and documentation has accelerated EHR implementation in hospitals and clinics. Currently, 88.2 percent of office-based physicians are using EHR/EMR systems.

To initiate EHR implementation, the development companies have to go through certain steps and checklists. This article summarizes all the essential steps needed for EHR implementation.

A Guide to EHR Implementation

1. Choose a Vendor for EHR Implementation

There is no universal way to choose a vendor for EHR implementation, rather it depends on what are the needs of doctors and healthcare facilities. A few pointers to keep in mind are the experience of an EHR vendor in the healthcare sector and whether the vendor is aware of all the ins and outs of EHR software.

An experienced EHR software development company has a workflow in place and they know the crux of healthcare rules to be followed. Any other development company would have to study the rules from scratch, which will take ample time. Furthermore, before choosing a vendor make a list of EHR goals to be achieved which can include greater interoperability and smooth and secure data exchange. This will help in narrowing down the vendor selection process.

Decide on in-house or SaaS-based EHR software, and compare different software development companies. Moreover, ask for a quote and schedule demos to pick the best vendor within the budget. Also, try to understand which EHR offerings work best for patients and practitioners.

2. Involve the Medical Professionals and Staff

Involving C-level medical professionals (CMO and CNO) and the executive staff of large hospitals helps to understand what problems need to be solved via EHR implementation. They can monitor the implementation process and ensure that the EHR is running as expected.

The CTOs and CIOs can sit on a review meeting with the CMOs and discuss issues involving EHR implementation such as workflows, system flaws, compliance, risks, data security, etc. This helps in augmenting collaboration between the two parties involved.

3. Create EHR Implementation Roadmap

Prepare an outline or a roadmap of all the EHR implementation tasks that need to be undertaken by the team. Key tasks to include in the outline are:

  • Understand the current workflow of the healthcare organization where EHR needs to be installed. Map out how things get done till now.
  • Next would be to plan out the desired workflow of EHR to attain greater efficiency and avoid any hindrances.
  • Make sure that a team is assigned for contingency planning to counter issues such as cybersecurity threats, data breaches, and fraud.
  • Delegate people for data transfer from the old EHR system to the new one or from paper charts to EHR.
  • Ensure to have a robust action plan for the privacy and security of EHR.
  • For effective EHR implementation and to handle teams use management tools such as Trello, Asana, and Wrike

4. Estimate a Budget for EHR Implementation

According to HealthIT.gov, the average cost for EHR implementation ranges between $15,000 to $70,000 per provider. The cost of EHR implementation depends on the mode of deployment of EHR: on-site and web-based EHR or SaaS. For on-site, the providers are required to pay for ongoing expenses to manage and support on-site data servers, whereas SaaS-based EHR providers need to pay a fixed monthly subscription fee. Apart from this, other aspects to consider while determining the budget for EHR implementation are:

  • Cost of hardware: This includes servers, desktops, laptops, tablets, scanners, etc.
  • Cost of software: This encompasses interface modules, periodical upgrades, new technology integrations, features, coding, platform, etc.
  • Training: Draw out a budget needed to train nurses, physicians, and other hospital staff on how to manage workflows via EHR and its functioning.
  • Implementation assistance: This includes the cost for an attorney, IT contractor, chart conversion, electrician, consultant support, workflow redesign support, etc.

5. List out Software and Hardware Needs

Before listing the software and hardware needs for EHR implementation, consider evaluating patient and practitioner needs. What kind of features do they require currently? What issues they’re facing? What’s to be accomplished via EHR implementation? Once these questions are answered, list out EHR software requirements that fall under two categories: system and software development requirements.

System requirement covers all the software, hardware, and certifications needed for EHR implementation such as APIs, cloud and on-premise deployment, backup and storage options, etc. On the other hand software development requirement consists of front-end and back-end development: languages, hosting, databases, libraries, servers, and app frameworks.

6. Migration of Patient and Practice Data

To migrate patient and practice data safely to a new EHR system you should have a staff who can do it for you and have sound knowledge about what kind of data needs to be migrated. Further, ensure to clean out duplicate patient data before migration as it leads to errors, and confusion, and takes up space. The prevalence of duplicate data suggests a need for investigation into why it’s happening and tackle it, so to improve the documentation process.

Healthcare data migration is a complex process, so it takes time to move all of it. Start with the most relevant and new records and move backward. Constantly check the timeline to control the process. After migration, test the current system, and check whether the information is in the right place and nothing is missing. Test for accuracy, double-check names, medical records, insurance details, etc. If any issues are spotted then fix it immediately. In case, the current staff is incapable of transferring data securely, then consider outsourcing.

7. Data Backup and Recovery Process

A robust data recovery and backup process helps to safeguard data during adverse conditions such as cyber-attacks, natural calamities, system failures, or data corruption. Sometimes, saving all the data is impossible, so backup the most critical data first. Build a strategy on how fast data can be recovered.

Ideally, it is better to have three different copies of data backup stored on two types of media, and one of them can be offsite. This approach may not be feasible for all organizations, but it ensures that no data is lost. HIPAA compliance is needed for data backup and recovery process as sensitive ePHI has to be protected.

Recovery solutions to consider are cloud-based or physical data centers. If healthcare organizations find it hard to manage the backup and recovery process on their own, then they can consider outsourcing these services.

8. Create EHR Training Program for Staff

Training is necessary for the EHR implementation process. It prevents setbacks, staff turnover, errors, and other frustrations while using the new system. EHR training helps staff to understand new workflows. To assure the right training, first check the computer proficiency of every staff member only to know whether employees can handle basic documentation tasks or not. Next, focus on role-based training, which means that tailor training sessions as per the roles and responsibilities of staff.

Design training programs that will best suit their needs. Appoint tech-savvy guides for each staff group whom they can approach in case of setbacks. At the end of the training ask for feedback to improve the next sessions. Leverage free resources given by the EHR implementation vendors as they are invaluable tools that can help to use EHR effectively.

9. Decide on the Launch Approach

Two key launch approaches are the big bang and incremental. The big bang approach shifts all users over to an EHR system in a single day. This minimizes the time spent in managing both paper and electronic records simultaneously, although it produces small glitches.

In an incremental approach, users are introduced to EHR functions step-by-step. Also, a new EHR system is slowly being rolled out throughout the organization. The incremental approach reduces productivity losses due to operational and workflow changes and it makes it easy to solve system issues.

10. Keep Improving on the EHR

The best way to improve EHR is to perform the following tasks:

  • Record patient throughput
  • Perform ROI calculations
  • Survey patient and physician satisfaction rate
  • Analyze data error rates

If you’re looking for third-party vendors to host your EHR software, contact Arkenea, a leading healthcare software development company. Our offerings include EHR software development and implementation, third-party integrations, and customized healthcare software development to name a few. We will provide you with the best plausible solution that meets your needs and standards.