Physician Electronic Health Record (EHR) adoption has skyrocketed in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 9% of hospitals adopted EHRs in 2008 and now more than 80% have demonstrated meaningful use of EHRs today.
Integration of EHRs means more physicians are making decisions about which systems are best for their practices. Physicians have enough things to worry about, an EHR doesn’t need to be one of them. So to help, we put together a list of common pitfalls to avoid when implementing a new EHR.
1. Investing in a complicated system.
Consider how easy (or hard it will be) for your least tech-savvy staff member to adopt your new software system. That should give you a good idea how user friendly your EHR is. While it’s true you might not need to be a technology expert, the more you and your staff know about how to utilize the system, the better. Take into account ease of use when making a purchasing decision.
2. Over-engineering a new system
In trying to customize your EHR, you may be tempted to make the new electronic system mirror your paper one. This isn’t necessarily the best solution. Sometimes it’s more efficient to alter your work flow to accommodate your EHR instead of the other way around. Paper-based processes aren’t always the most efficient, so make sure to evaluate whether or not your work flow needs some reworking now that you have new tools available.
3. Insufficient training for staff.
If you and your staff are not properly trained, then your transition to your EHR will be a slow and painful one—not a great way to get started. Make sure everyone receives as much training as they need. You can select certain staff to train as super users so they can assist other users as needed (once your overall training is over). Proper training will help improve efficiencies with the EHR; so, make it a priority.
4. Failure to notify patients.
Make sure to let your patients know about the upcoming changes and prepare them for potential delays. While your staff may have received exceptional training, there is still a learning curve to tackle, and that takes time. Initially processes may be slow as your staff gets up to speed. The more you educate your patients about the process, the less frustrated they’re likely to be as you implement a new system.
5. Impersonal interactions with patients.
Doctors don’t often think about how an EHR will impact their dealings with patients, but sometimes incorporating new technology can be awkward and impersonal, especially when you’re trying to input data while having a conversation.
Don’t let poor bedside manner become a side effect of your EHR system. Consider what type of devices are best used for patient consults, maybe a hand held tablet that gives you flexibility to move about the room has a place in your practice. Ensure you engage patients even while you’re collecting their information. Be conscious of your body language and make sure patients feel heard.