Challenges to EMR implementation
If you were a healthcare provider and all you did was read press releases, you’d be tempted to think that transitioning to a new EMR (Electronic Medical Records) system involved little more than opening the package and plugging in the contents. Naturally, things are a little more complicated than that, but many providers aren’t aware of just how much more complicated the truth really is.
We’ve compiled a list of the top challenges in implementing an EMR:
1. Cost: Few providers have enough cash on hand to make an upfront capital investment in an EMR system. Coupled with that is the inability to calculate the total cost of the solution when infrastructure, training, and support are taken into account. Without the support of sufficient resources, a return on investment (ROI) won’t be reached.
2. Time: Many providers, especially those working in small practices, report that they fear losing business as a result of putting the right amount of time into deploying an EMR system. Considering the revenue these providers generate from their patient appointment, a reduction in patient visits could prove detrimental to their bottom line.
3. Preparation: In order for a hospital or small practice to make a well-informed decision, all stakeholders must collaborate and reach a consensus. Without a shared vision and widespread support, the successful implementation and sustainability of the right system could be doomed from the very beginning. A great amount of planning on the front end will ensure that fewer surprises appear on the back end.
4. Rollout strategy: An EMR can go live in two ways:
- On the one hand, there’s The Big Bang Theory wherein everything launches at once, which requires significant resources and a dedicated support staff that can respond to the needs of providers as and when they arise;
- On the other hand, there’s The Incremental Approach in which portions of the system become available one at a time. This allows providers to learn as they go.
5. Training: Enough firsthand experience and research in countries where EMRs have already been implemented have shown that personnel who receive adequate training on an EMR system show better progress and efficiency than those who don’t. The impact of proper and pervasive training on sustainability of an EMR can’t be emphasized enough.
6. Culture: Some providers have worked so long in a paper world that the transition to a digital format is intimidating. Using an EMR software means that doctors, nurses, and eventually even customers adapt their methods to electronic record-keeping. Simply reproducing a paper-based system doesn’t take advantage of what a digital system can do.
7. Date Migration: Moving to an EMR from a paper-based or inferior digital system could lead to data loss. While entry of date and scanning of documents are time-consuming processes, they can cost less time if only necessary data is moved. The purpose of transitioning to an electronic system is not to archive all paper documentation; but only that information which is critical to the patient’s treatment in the future.
Using technology is really new for a lot of practices. Many practices struggle with performance issues related to their workflows, largely because their care delivery structures aren’t always suited to taking advantage of EMRs and they’re not clear on the proper steps toward greater efficiency. On the whole however, there are very simple ways to battle these challenges. In the next post we would be talking about what should ideally happen during an EMR software implementation and how we tackle these challenges.