Although several EMR vendors provide implementation support along with initial training, it is always better for practices to plan out their implementation process themselves. An EMR significantly changes the practice workflow, staff responsibilities and work ethics; hence training the medical staff can be instrumental in determining the effectiveness of the implementation process.
Change management can be handled in various ways, however most practices rely on the tell and sell method by educating staff about the process change and the effect it may have on their individual responsibilities along with the reason behind the organization to adopt new methods; thereby ensuring goal congruence.
Another method is to appoint a change agent; usually office/practice managers taken on such responsibilities. The change agent spearheads the project by proactively promoting the need for change and its benefits along with managing staff concerns.
Staff education serves two purposes; not only does it helps in preparing and motivating the staff but allows them to actively participate and adopt the change as their own. Staff participation in the implementation process can allow for a more comprehensive and detailed approach, which reduces post implementation issues and frustration.
The other key aspect of shifting to electronic health records (EHR) is importing the existing data and patient information. Shifting from one EHR vendor to another is a much simpler process than going from a paper to paperless environment. Most EHR vendors provide the service of integrating data from legacy systems, hence reducing the post implementation workload.
Shifting to an EHR system can be very simple as well. Most practices start by recording all new patients and converting existing patient records for future visits. When an existing patient visits the practice, the staff can simply identify the paper chart and scan the document by linking to the patient profile, adding additional information through electronic charting when necessary. While the staff may experience more workload in the beginning, the scanning process reduces over time, gradually reducing to a few scarce instances.
Planning your EMR implementation process pays off. Hence, it is always better to be thoroughly prepared.