Do you ever feel that you’re so busy you barely have time to see your patients and do the necessary paperwork? If so, purchasing, learning, and implementing a new electronic health records (EHR) system may seem like an impossible task.
How can you possibly find the time to learn how to use new software? How can you ask your staff to take time to train? What will not get done while you are learning to use the new system?
The answer is not easy and depends on the EHR system you plan to implement, your current work routine, and your level of comfort with technology—as well as that of your staff. One important point to remember is that, even if it takes more time at first, eventually a good EHR system will save time. Your records will be streamlined and accessible, as well as more secure, as long as you are using a good system from a credible vendor.
One of the most important parts of training is knowing what kind of support is available for the software you are purchasing and taking full advantage of it. If you are taking advantage of in-person training, you will need to manage your time differently than if you will be using online tutorials. Either way, of course, will require some of your time and attention. On-going support will be necessary throughout the transition and implementation period and thereafter. You will always want to have the option of calling someone in for support if there is a problem.
Assuming that you have already chosen a system for your practice, the next step is hands-on learning. The more customizable an EHR system is, the more you can adapt it to fit in with the workflow at your practice. The downside, of course, is that it will likely take a little longer to get everything set up.
You will want to know as much as possible about how the system works before it is used. The DC and at least one staff member should undergo any training available prior to implementation. In a perfect world, the entire staff will have some time to practice and get to know the new system before it is put into use. Many vendors suggest inputting fictional patients for practice.
Transitioning from your old system to your new one a little at a time will also give everyone the opportunity to get comfortable using the new system. Moving everything at once can lead to chaos. Have a plan for how the transition will take place and when the new system will be used for various pieces of the practice before beginning. Make sure everyone in the office has a chance to use each new part of the system before moving on to the next one.
No matter how many bells and whistles your new system has, be sure you know how to do all of the basics first. Once everyone is comfortable with patient check in, SOAP notes, billing, and anything else critical to the function of your business—or vital to meeting the legal requirements of HIPAA—then you can begin to explore other capabilities the system has.
It may take a few months to fully implement the new system if you transition gradually. However, the longer transition period may actually save you time in the end, and tackling each segment individually will lower the probability confusion and chaos. The smoother your EHR system runs, the more time you will have for patient care, continuing education, and all of your other responsibilities.