EMR Adoption and Change Resistance Management

You’re a medical practice manager with eyes on that CMS incentive program and its time to go EMR shopping. You’ve picked a product, everything looks great, the budget’s been allocated, partners & providers are with you, the vendor’s shared their magical implementation plan and you can’t wait to order the hardware.

This is where you slow down and go back to that smooth implementation plan to take a good look at it for the part that talks about “CHANGE RESISTANCE MANAGEMENT”. What! There isn’t one? Maybe you think you do not need one.  After all what can be so challenging about adopting an electronic medical record and a practice management system that will only require tweaking your business workflows while twisting arms of the back office staff. Also, don’t worry about the grumpy old radiology technician who firmly believes that technology ended with the invention of x-ray machines. The MAs’ won’t bite you just because the charts are now a few clicks away, far from that trusty old file closet.

Maybe you thought that it’s not the vendor’s responsibility to help you manage the commotion their product is going to cause at your front desk while the billers refuse to send the claims out in the back office. Your doctors probably don’t care about what product they are signing up for as long as they can still create notes on paper, slap them on scanners and beam them into an EMR.

A good EMR vendor with a mature implementation team will discuss change resistance with you; in fact they would ask you to establish all your business critical operations before sharing the implementation project plan with you. Chances are they will also share their workflows and rebuttals against each item you’ll share with them. This is usually the first step an implementation team will take with you. They should also ask you about the key staff members at the practice for establishing implementation partnerships. The chief biller at the practice can work with the vendor to facilitate a smooth deployment while acting as a key – post live communication person for his or her department. Same is the case with front desk, facility (lab, radiology etc…) and provider representatives at the practice.   A half decent implementation team will design their trainings around the concept of toning down the resistance that may surface with the adoption of their product.

Access to legacy data, adequate trainings, an established knowledge base and efficient pre live implementation communication are some of the key factors that contribute towards reducing the intensity of change resistance. Establishing a communication plan with the vendor before the start of the implementation process really pays off, since calling them every 20 minutes for the next six months is not healthy, certainly not for a practice. Find out if your vendor offers portal based communication such as e-ticketing or an action list.

Never underestimate the importance of legacy data so don’t leave any stone unturned when it comes to data migrations. Find out what you’re paying for and make sure your staff gets a memo about what information will be accessible in the new EMR and what needs to be saved in Human Readable Format on a shared network. Insist on test data migration if your vendor has not offered one already and get a consensus on it from all stake holders.  A good vendor will probably ask you to sign an approval on the test data migration before conducting a final one.

Ask for training agenda against each scheduled session and then adhere to time and staff requirements.  Insist on post live Q&A sessions and share your staff’s concerns with the vendor beforehand.

Find out what kind of online training material is offered by your vendor and promote its usage amongst your staff. Identify leaders in all the departments and establish an effective leadership that can assist you in finding and implementing solutions  while communicating with vendors on your behalf.

Finally it does not matter how new the technology may be; the same old rule of “Nobody likes change” still applies.

 

 

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