A Secret Recipe for EHR Implementation Success Seasoned by Best Practices

As families have heated debates about the proper way to cook a Thanksgiving turkey—roast low and slow like grandma taught you, brine overnight for the juiciest bird, or fry hot and fast for crispy skin—there are just as many ways to handle hospital EHR system implementation.

MEDHOST has spent decades testing, tweaking, and improving our recipe for EHR implementation success as we have partnered with customers through more than 1,300 implementations.

Whether your hospital is moving from a paper environment to electronic health records for the first time or switching from one EHR system to another, follow these high-level best practices for  optimal results:

  1. Set expectations to make sure everyone is on the same page.
  2. Keep your current workflows in mind.
  3. Choose an EHR team with field experience.
  4. Choose an EHR partner, not just a vendor.

Let’s dig in!

Don’t Skip this Critical Implementation Step: Set the Table

Before doing anything else, hospitals must sit down with the EHR implementation team to set expectations for the duration of the project. Discuss goals, capabilities, timelines, workflows, competing projects, and anything else that may influence how implementation will progress.

Failing to take this important step could lead to project delays, gaps in training, patient care problems, employee adoption issues, added costs, and other problems that could derail the implementation long-term.

MEDHOST spends the first portion of all implementations engaging in active listening with the hospital, then crafts a plan of attack with the customer. We serve a wide range of customers and facility types that each will have unique goals and expectations, including behavioral health facilities, community hospitals, general acute care hospitals, post-acute care facilities, and multi-facility hospital systems .

The top priorities and goals for each of these facility types can vary, but most often include the following areas:

  • improved patient safety
  • better care coordination 
  • increased operational efficiency
  • return on investment
  • effective reporting and documentation
  • high employee adoption
  • ease of patient use
  • minimized system downtime

Taking some extra time on the front-end to digest all of this information helps ensure the implementation plan will be specifically suited to the needs of the facility and project at-hand while keeping the hospital’s bigger picture in mind.

We go over this plan at a high level with the executive team to set expectations for how long the implementation will take, how much it will cost, how hospital resources will be impacted, and what space will be required so the hospital can manage expectations throughout. Each of our full system implementations also has an executive sponsor at MEDHOST to ensure hospitals have an outlet and a voice throughout the implementation.

Once MEDHOST shares that plan, we ask for the executive team’s blessing and buy-in … and then we get cooking.

Avoid One-Size-Fits-All Implementation Workflows

Given the wide range in size and type of healthcare facility and the goals each will have, it is rare that hospitals will go through the same implementation process to get to the same place.

Make sure the workflow your EHR partner uses is a good fit for your facility’s resources and operational needs.

“We are not going for one-size-fits all, where everybody gets the same solution,” said Doug Allen, MEDHOST Vice President of Implementation Services. “We see all types of hospitals at MEDHOST, so it’s really important that we’re very flexible with our approach.”

From the kick-off and discovery phase, through the system build, training, testing, and ultimate go-live portion of implementation workflow, the customer is top of mind for our teams. We understand that your hospital’s teams have a day job, and any training or resources needed during implementation may take them away from those responsibilities.

“We know what the average timeline is, but the average doesn’t have to be their timeline,” said Allen. “They may want to go a little faster, they may want to go a little bit slower, but the important thing is that we’re on the same page.”

Choose an EHR Implementation Team with Healthcare Experience

We all know what happens when you have too many cooks in the kitchen. For a successful EHR implementation, it is critical to make sure you have the right cooks in the kitchen.

How? Choose an EHR vendor that leverages the expertise of nurses, pharmacists, Emergency Department Directors, Chief Financial Officers, Business Office Directors, HIM directors, and other employees with experience in the hospital setting.

MEDHOST is proud of the deep clinical, financial, and hospital operations experience on our implementation teams. In fact, 80 percent of the employees who implement nursing solutions for our clients have BSNs or RNs and have served in a hospital setting for several years. All of our implementation teams are staffed with industry experts with hospital and healthcare setting experience to provide that peer-to-peer interaction for customers.

Our employees truly understand the systems and workflows of our customers because they have been in your shoes.

Allen says, “We really want to make sure we differentiate ourselves based on our skills and ability to work hand-in-hand with the facility resources on-site,” adding, “A huge part of why our customers are most satisfied is because they do feel like they have an outlet. They feel like they have a voice.”

Enlist an EHR Partner, Not Just a Vendor

Finally, look for an EHR partner. A vendor will complete a sale and move on to the next opportunity. A partner, on the other hand, will stand side by side with you as a trusted resource throughout the entire EHR implementation process and beyond.

Choose an EHR vendor that will make your goals their goals, who will empower you to advance your patient care experience and improve business operations.

MEDHOST emphasizes actively listening to our customers throughout the EHR implementation process and beyond.

We assign each customer an executive sponsor as a resource and outlet throughout the project, host regular status calls or meetings to stay on track, leverage pulse surveys to create a strong feedback loop throughout the implementation, and work together with our customers to identify any potential gaps and close them. Once the implementation is complete, all MEDHOST customers are supported by our team of industry leading customer support experts.

Follow these high level best practices as you choose an EHR partner for your implementation.

You’ll be thankful you did!

Further Reading:

Creating a Safer Health Care Environment with the “3 Ts” of EHR Implementation

White Paper: A Provider Checklist: What to Consider When Looking at Vendors in the Sales Process

 

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