Electronic health records (EHRs) are the real-time and patient-centered records which make the access of patient information accessible to authorized users instantly and securely in a digital mode. The EHRs contain information related to a patient on a broader perspective inclusive of all the patient medical information and history along with the diagnoses, treatment plans, allergies, immunization dates, and medical reports that allow healthcare providers to make informed and evidence-based decisions about a patient’s care when needed. Healthcare facilities need to adopt an EHR system to achieve the “meaningful use” and get the EHR incentives. However, EHR implementation is a complex task and requires a good plan to make it successful. Here are a few critical steps in EHR implementation that need to be followed by healthcare providers to ease their implementation and make it successful.
Project plan: Healthcare providers that want to implement electronic health records for their facilities have to first determine their readiness for the implementation, establish goals, and identify the key staff that would be a part of it. A roadmap has to be made outlining all tasks and processes that require execution by the facility’s team members. This includes assessing the expected implementation costs and creating a budget for the project and scheduling the implementation processes.
Team recruitment: Once a project plan is created and processes are scheduled, the next big task is to recruit the team that would implement the plan according to the budget and timelines. Different people at different levels are required such as the project manager, application developer, application analyst, QA test engineer etc.
Data migration: The next important step in EHR system implementation is the migration of patient and practice data. One has to be really cautious at this stage because this data is critical to the facilities operations and the sensitive patient information has to be transferred accurately and securely. This process involves the conversion of paper records into EHRs, data cleansing & verification, setting up a database, mapping the data to the new database fields and finally testing & verifying legacy data along with the new data inputs.
User training: To get the maximum benefit from the EHRs, the healthcare facility has to invest properly in the user-training programs and train all the key users of the system. Properly planned and executed training programs have a great impact on the facility’s ROI from the implemented EHR solutions.
Launch plan: Right from day one when the system would be launched to go live, everything has to be planned perfectly. All the things pertaining to system testing, patient communication guidelines, system staff scheduling, etc. should be well-planned in advance and executed appropriately.
Evaluation process: It is important for every facility planning to implement EHRs, to create an evaluation process also in advance and define the critical success factors to check if the implementation process has been executed properly and successfully.
A good EHR implementation strategy is that which delivers on schedule, is adopted by the key stakeholders without suspicions, and facilitates providing good quality healthcare to patients. Healthcare facilities should choose the best EHR solutions for the best returns on investment.