Building the Core EHR Team

With a majority of healthcare organizations being multi-site as well as an increasing trend in MSO oriented healthcare systems, the ability to effectively manage and deploy EHR to entire physician networks is critical to achieving an integrated patient record and reducing disparate records across physician networks.  The release of Allscripts Enterprise EHR version 11.2.x brings the movement towards meaningful use and reimbursement incentives; as well as penalties.  This requires that organizations develop the capacity and knowledge required to take on, prioritize, and execute multiple EHR initiatives simultaneously.  In many cases this involves what seems like the never ending rollout of sites, practices, and acquisitions that comprise these complex physician and community based networks.

So what is really involved in order to make this happen?  Is it really just about system configuration, setting system preferences, writing interfaces, analyzing workflows, and installing hardware?  Cumulatively it is, but who makes this happen and why don’t they grow on trees?  This article aims to take a step back and take a hard look at the soft skills needed to ensure not only a successful initial installation of EHR, but the underlying principals needed in order to ensure a fully functional, well seasoned, and confident EHR deployment team.

Perhaps a quite common question or source of anxiety presented to on site vendor support is “Well what happens once you’re gone?  Who is going to take care of us?”  The following are pre-emptive measures that organizations can take in order to ensure that once the “experts” leave, the pace of the EHR implementation can maintain its course.

Initiate the Transfer of Knowledge

The fast and furious pace of installing EHR at a particular practice can sometimes leave the remaining implementation and support staff straddling between new support duties and ramping up additional practices.  Don’t wait for the knowledge to come to you….go to where the knowledge is.

  • Identify the key drivers and what the critical build aspects are for the organization or practice installation.  Don’t just now what they are, but take the next steps and get a head start in building towards expert level knowledge in those areas.
    • Attend product focused webinars
    • Invest in either remote or on site focused system maintenance or functionality driven education courses
  • Granted these elements can require time and some capital to achieve, but the long term return on investment will come in the form of self sufficiency

First Impressions Are Everything

Remember that through the eyes of a practice going live on a brand new electronic health record the initial round of go-live support and change management will set the tone for the long term relationship between the practice(s) and the core EHR implementation team.

  • Get the core team’s faces out there and work to establish a positive rapport with new and upcoming practice(s), but keep in mind not to overwhelm them.
  • Make sure the practice(s) know that as a team they will be working together directly with the EHR implementation team and that they will not be experiencing this change alone.
  • Let the practice(s) know that it’s okay to ask questions prior to go-live and work to eliminate that potential perception go-live day is a just a silent time bomb waiting to explode.

Cross Training & Skill Set Ramp Up

Get as many of the core EHR and support team involved in all phases of the project life cycle for a given practice.  This will help build the perspective and broaden knowledge needed not only to maintain autonomy and depend less on other team members, but also increase the support capacity of each team member.  This can translate into increased support bandwidth and end user satisfaction.

  • Encourage every core team member to participate in clinic walkthroughs, workflow assessments, go-live support, and the post-live optimization process.
  • Provide internal or “brown bag” presentations (post-live) so that other team members can become familiar with each other’s focus or area of product specialty.

Remember that once the “experts” leave, the core EHR implementation and support team is the lifeblood of the implementation and a key driver to any organization’s long terms success with EHR.

Good Luck!

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