Get Ready for EHR Success: The Four Steps You Need

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Here at Calysta EMR, we know that implementing an electronic health record system is a major undertaking. But with careful planning and preparation, your practice can ensure a smooth and successful EHR rollout.

After helping hundreds of aesthetic practices transition to our intuitive platform, our team has identified four key steps to EHR success.

What are the four steps to a successful EHR implementation?

doctor and patient consult

Implementing a new electronic health record (EHR) system is a major undertaking for any healthcare organization. Transitioning from paper to digital records impacts clinical workflows and processes throughout the practice. An EHR implementation affects providers, nurses, administration staff, and patients themselves.

While each implementation is unique, our experts recommend following four key steps:

Needs Assessment and Goal Setting

The first step is conducting a thorough needs assessment and setting clear goals for your EHR implementation. Bring together a team of stakeholders, including providers, nurses, support staff, and office leadership. Discuss your practice's challenges, pain points, and areas for improvement.

What issues do you hope to solve with an EHR system? Common goals include:

  • Improving clinical documentation and record keeping
  • Enhancing care coordination and care transitions
  • Reducing medication errors and adverse drug events
  • Increasing billing accuracy and reducing claims denial
  • Improving quality reporting and data analysis
  • Reducing costs associated with paper records

Once you've identified your needs, set measurable goals and define what successful EHR adoption looks like. Having a shared vision keeps your team aligned throughout the implementation process. It also helps you select the right EHR system for your practice.

Research and Select an EHR System

With your goals in mind, start researching EHR systems and potential vendors. When comparing options, consider factors like:

  • Pricing and overall costs
  • System features and capabilities
  • Vendor reputation and stability
  • Implementation support offered
  • Hardware needs and requirements
  • Intuitiveness and ease of use

Schedule demos to test drive systems firsthand. Make sure the EHR fits your budget, meets your defined needs, and supports your clinical workflows. An EHR that is clunky, overly complex, or doesn't integrate well into your practice will frustrate staff and hinder adoption. 

Prioritize usability.

Narrow down your options and select a system. Sign your EHR contract to lock in pricing and implementation timelines. Now you can move forward confidently in choosing the right solution for your practice.

Implementation Planning

Careful planning is crucial to smoothly transition from paper to digital workflows. Start by outlining an implementation timeline, from contract signing to go-live. Work backwards from your targeted go-live date to map out key milestones.

Next, bring together an implementation team. This cross-functional team should include providers, nurses, and administrative leaders who will champion the EHR rollout. Assign roles like project manager, training coordinator, and technical lead.

Develop implementation plans in collaboration with your EHR vendor. Key elements to address include:

  • Hardware procurement and setup
  • Network infrastructure evaluation
  • Data migration strategy
  • Forming super-users for training
  • Workflow redesign
  • Staff training curriculum and schedule
  • Go-live preparation and support
  • Post-implementation optimization

Thorough planning reduces hiccups down the road. It also gets your staff onboard with the upcoming changes.

Staff Training and Communication

With the groundwork laid, it's time to train stakeholders on using the new system. Well in advance of go-live, bring in super-users for in-depth training. These super-users will then help train other staff.

Training should include:

  • System navigation and basic functions
  • Role-specific workflows by department
  • Entering and retrieving data
  • Documentation tools and templates
  • Order entry and ePrescribing
  • Clinical decision support features
  • Billing tools and claims management

Make training hands-on through exercises in the live EHR when possible. Short bursts of targeted training are more effective than lengthy lectures. Continue training until users feel confident using the EHR proficiently.

Throughout training, keep communicating about the implementation. Send out emails, hold staff meetings, and post FAQs to address concerns. An engaged, well-trained staff is critical for EHR success.

Following these four key steps—assessing needs, selecting an EHR, planning the implementation, and thoroughly training staff—lays a strong foundation for a smooth transition to your new system. While inevitable hiccups will still occur during go-live, careful preparation minimizes disruptions to patient care. With patience and continued optimization, your practice will be leveraging your EHR to improve care in no time.

Cost Considerations for EHR Implementation

In addition to choosing the right system and planning carefully, practices must consider costs when implementing an EHR. The four steps to success factor in budget realities:

  • During needs assessment and goal setting, discuss what financial resources you can allocate to the project. An EHR represents a significant investment for most practices. Understanding your budget constraints from the outset helps guide decision making.
  • When researching systems, pay close attention to costs. Look at one-time fees like software licensing, setup and training charges, and hardware purchases. Factor in ongoing costs like maintenance, upgrades, and support fees. Weigh costs against the benefits different EHRs offer to find the best value.
  • In planning the implementation, project personnel costs like paying staff for overtime training. Budget for potential temporary staff to backfill roles during go-live. Build in contingencies for unexpected expenses.
  • With training, maximize free education resources. Have in-house super-users train other staff to avoid paid vendor training sessions. Take advantage of webinars, online courses, and user communities to supplement hands-on practice.

Beyond direct implementation costs, indirect costs like temporary productivity losses during rollout impact the budget. However, the right EHR improves efficiency, billing, reimbursement, and care quality over the long-term, offsetting expenses. 

With good planning and discipline around costs from the start, EHR implementation delivers a positive return on investment.

Structuring the EHR Implementation Timeline

A detailed project timeline is vital for smooth EHR adoption. The four implementation steps each translate into clear phases on the timeline:

Needs Assessment and PlanningDefine objectives, pick an EHR, and outline the implementation roadmap.2-3 months
Acquiring the EHR Software and HardwareFinalize contracts, place orders, secure servers and devices, and complete networking tasks like installing cabling or expanding WiFi.1-2 months
Implementation Planning, Training, and TestingReconfigure workflows, redesign forms, migrate data, and train staff extensively. Allow ample time for hands-on practice.3-6 months
Go-Live and Post-Implementation SupportImplement the system possibly in stages, by department or location. Staggering rollout reduces disruptions in patient care. Vendor support helps resolve issues and optimize use of the new system for 6-12 weeks post-go-live.2-3 months

Proper sequencing ensures predecessor tasks are completed before successors. Build in buffer time for inevitable delays. Following this phased timeline sets your EHR project up for on-time success. Adjust timeframes as needed to suit your practice's scale and complexity. 

Getting Physician Practices Ready for EHR Implementation

Physician practices have unique needs and challenges when implementing EHR systems, which the four key steps help overcome:

  • Conducting physician-driven needs analysis and goal setting ensures clinical priorities are met. Providers must see the benefits of reduced charting and improved quality of care.
  • Research systems catering specifically to small and mid-sized practices. Larger hospital EHRs may overwhelm. Select intuitive, flexible solutions.
  • Implementation planning should minimize physician productivity loss. Consider phased rollouts and part-time super-users as training resources.
  • Make training convenient through multiple modalities - on-site, remote access, during lunch breaks, and after hours. Observe work flows firsthand to tailor training.
  • Engage providers as champions and change agents. Involve them in decision-making and communicate reasons for change. Address concerns transparently.

With providers fully on board, practices can realize the benefits of EHR adoption: enhanced clinical documentation, better chronic disease management, reduced transcription costs, improved coding and billing, and more time spent with patients. 

Evaluating EHR Implementation Success

The four stages of EHR implementation build a strong foundation for adoption and set your practice up for success after go-live. But how do you measure that success?

Key metrics to evaluate include:

  • Patient Scheduling - Assess average appointments scheduled per day or week before and after EHR implementation. Improved scheduling and access are signs of success.
  • Clinical Documentation - Compare completion rates for key elements like problem lists, medications, immunizations, and smoking status before and after EHR use. Increases indicate more thorough charting.
  • Charge Capture - Measure the number or percentage of visits with appropriate E&M and procedure coding for complexity. Higher rates reflect improved documentation and coding.
  • Billing Process - Calculate metrics like days in accounts receivable, claim rejection rates, and collections. Declines highlight optimized billing and reimbursement.
  • Medication Safety - Monitor decreased adverse drug events and prescribing errors with EHR checks and alerts. Lower rates show safety improvements.
  • Care Coordination - Assess turnaround times on referrals, labs, images, and consults. Faster coordination benefits quality.

Track metrics periodically post-implementation to verify your defined goals are being achieved through EHR use. Continuously optimizing the system based on data ensures lasting success.

Successful EHR Implementation With Calysta EMR

a medical doctor checking health records

By following these four steps, Calysta can transform your practice. You'll reduce paperwork, improve coordination, enhance documentation accuracy, streamline scheduling, and increase profitability. We empower you with holistic, real-time insights to take your patient experience to the next level.

Want to learn more? Contact us today for a personalized demo and consultation. We're passionate about helping aesthetic practices like yours chart a course for EHR success. With Calysta as your partner, you can look forward to an implementation journey that's hassle-free.

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