Overcoming the challenges of Electronic Health Records (EHR)
There’s no question that healthcare needs to adopt new technology like Electronic Health Records (EHR) that makes us more effective and efficient and curbs costs. In today’s world, providers of all sizes and backgrounds continue to find it challenging to integrate existing systems with EHRs for a variety of reasons, as listed in our previous article.
As the industry evolves, technology solutions need to be smarter and empower seamless integration. The following are certain general guidelines providers must follow in order to avoid facing obstacles in the process of adoption and implementation of EHR Systems.
1. THE CHALLENGE OF CHOOSING A ROLL OUT STRATEGY
Make EHR planning and implementation a strategic initiative, not only an IT initiative.
One key to successful EHR implementation is securing the passion and commitment of the upper management and the support of the hospital leadership team before embarking on the journey of change. Senior leaders must view and frame EHR as a tool to deliver higher quality care to the communities that the organization serves.
2. THE CHALLENGE OF CULTURE
Performance incentives and mandates
This has the potential of being a highly rewarding development that includes initiating quality-based reimbursement programs, rewarding medical firms for publishing performance reports, mandating specific quality improvement actions or use of specific IT applications, and even rewarding consumers for choosing higher-quality providers on the basis of these performance reports.
3. THE CHALLENGE OF COST AND TIME
Anticipate that the EHR initiative will take longer and cost more than you think.
Most health care organizations underestimate—by nearly 100 percent—the time and costs associated with implementing advanced EHR functions, including clinical order entry, nursing and physician information documentation, clinical decision support and bar-coding medication.
Over time, the greatest share of EHR investment is dedicated to hardware, software and training, which together constitute roughly 60 percent of total EHR implementation costs. However, these costs shrink over time, and the amount spent on support and maintenance labour increases almost fourfold. It’s important these factors are kept in mind and planned for well in advance.
4. THE CHALLENGE OF TRAINING
Focus on acquiring and developing top talent.
Health care organizations are experiencing a significant shortage of qualified IT professionals to meet the demand associated with EHR implementation and support. Unfilled IT positions are a major source of concern and managers should be focussed on planning not only how their organization will source enough talent from the marketplace, but also how to keep their current IT staff up to date on training, in order to efficiently meet longer-term demands.
5. THE CHALLENGE OF PREPARATION
Create a culture that supports effective EHR adoption.
There is a need for a consistent focus on changing management and workforce engagement to ensure that key stakeholders, particularly physicians, get behind the effort and understand the benefits of using EHR components. Strong personal effort by leaders to shape the culture will often be necessary. For example, Chief Information Officers must commit to spending at least one evening every week with cohorts of physicians, educating them on the benefits of EHR tools.