You may or may not currently have an EHR software program; or maybe you’re just looking for an upgrade. Either way, choosing the right EHR can be a pivotal decision concerning the evolution of your medical practice and its costs. There are reports from Medical Economics showing that as much as 67% of physicians are dissatisfied with EHR systems due to system functionality.
After all, the healthcare industry is constantly changing, and you are going to want something that is adaptable and versatile for your needs (whether you’re a specialty practice or PCP). Be aware that it takes time to find the most suitable EHR program, and it is much better that you invest research into choosing the right one, rather than buying in to something you and your office won’t use to its maximum potential.
Here are 3 mistakes that it will behoove you to avoid when choosing the right EHR:
1.) Not Knowing What you Currently Have and What you Want/Need
How are you supposed to shop around for an EHR when you don’t know what your current one lacks, or what it should have? This includes the capacity of what your hardware can handle, as well – a lot of problems with implementing EHR systems can stem from IT-related mistakes, and not problems with the program itself. Make sure you know this distinction before moving forward with your decision about an EHR program.
This need for knowledge on what you currently have is not only applicable when it comes to IT-related issues, but your office workflow and productivity as well. Evaluate your office to see what works and what doesn’t with your staff – that will give you an idea of how you can improve your overall workflow. After all, EHR systems are designed to make tasks quicker and more efficient. You can compare these figures to other EHR systems later on, and it will help narrow down your choices. It will also help you stay aware of what you currently have, so you can make the call confidently about what you want/need.
Solution: Make a list of all the features you want, as well as what your current system lacks (these should go hand in hand).
2.) Not Communicating the Change to Patients
Your patients are the revolving-door of your practice, and are constantly breathing life into it. Patients have an expectation of service and face-to-face interaction when dealing with their healthcare (don’t you?). A mistake most healthcare providers don’t consider is once they implement the system: how it is going to affect your interaction with patients?
Will you be using an iPad, tablet, or computer while being with a patient? This can impact the experience they have with your staff – especially if they are fidgeting with the software and don’t know how to use it. When a patient feels like their time is being wasted, it diminishes the doctor-patient relationship that develops/has developed. Let your patients know about your transition ahead of time, and they will be more understanding. Post notices on your website and in the office about it; make sure, one way or another, that they are notified of the upcoming change. It’s indicative of good service, and good healthcare.
Solution: Give adequate time to train your staff on the new software before it goes live in your practice. That way, the transition will be smoother for them and for your patients. Instead of getting a bad impression, a patient will be impressed by your experience and new software, especially if it provides more convenience to them, as well.
3.) Not Including Your Staff on the Decision
Another mistake that can be made is assuming the decision of which EHR system to pick should be determined by the doctor alone. This should be a group decision with your practice, and not just yours, the doctor, to make. It’s important that it is accessible for both you and your staff to avoid a severe dip in productivity.
Everyone uses the software in one way or another, so by getting input from everyone, they will be more willing to support your decision. Set training dates and take your office manager when viewing web demonstrations to get another opinion. Your entire practice can be affected if an EHR system is difficult to use for the front desk and other personnel, since they are the first people your patients see and the first impression they get.
Solution: Much like your patients, inform your staff in a meeting of your desire to switch EHR systems/transition to an EHR. Make an anonymous survey for them to fill out about what features they would like to see in the new EHR system, and how it can make things easier and more convenient.
Knowing everything that constitutes an EHR system that is suitable for your practice’s needs is paramount (such as system functionality); however, avoid these mistakes, as you will run into delays and staff resistance moving forward. Practice consistent communication, and you will be able to reap the benefits of an efficient and minimally disruptive implementation.