The success of the EMR adoption is an empowered staff.
An appointed ‘Physician Champion’ can be instrumental in the success of the EMR adoption. This person should be motivating, enthusiastic, have a good working knowledge of the EMR and be able to articulate the specific benefits that the EMR will provide.
Appoint an in-house ‘Project Manager.’ Most vendors will supply a Project Manager for large group installations but in addition, have a key person on staff to oversee the entire project. This person should have extensive knowledge of all areas of the EMR as well as how the EMR will interact with each type of provider and support staff. This person is crucial for the “Big Picture” and to understand and translate the rationale for the decisions being made.
Acquire an EMR with Staff Inclusion
Communicate to the staff the practice’s desire to acquire an EMR before the purchase. Better yet, have them be included in the decision of which EMR vendor to choose. It is common for a physician to choose an EMR with no input from the support staff. This can create a feeling of resentment among staff and a feeling that their input is not useful or necessary. The staff will more likely embrace a system that they have had input in choosing and will be more acceptable to the adoption.
Be aware that support staff may feel that they could be replaced by an EMR. In certain cases this may be accurate particularly with file clerks or other types of staff. Be sensitive to this possible concern.
Have an end-user staff be involved in the system set-up. Many times practices rely on one person to set-up system files, pick-lists, defaults, templates or libraries, customizable options etc.. This presents a problem in that only one person has an understanding of the rationale for the decisions that were made at that time and critical knowledge will be lost if that person leaves the practice. It is best to utilize the end-users for system-set-up decisions because they are the ones who will be performing the tasks that the system parameters will affect. They have the detailed knowledge of present procedures and workflows and therefore may know ramifications of such system set-up parameters or other functionality.
Map out workflows utilizing current staff members. Map out current workflows on paper and bring in the end-users who perform the current workflows to help design new workflows for the EMR. No one knows their job better than the person who does it everyday. More often, practices do not go to this source for their crucial input.
The learning curve for complete and successful adoption of the EMR is usually vastly underestimated. Even if productivity is not affected initially during the go-live phase, most providers do report an increase in the length of time necessary for documentation. This is especially apparent if templates are used and the provider’s are not familiar with them. Most providers will spend additional time at the end of the day documenting notes after a go-live. Usually within 6 months to one year, most providers are leaving the office at their normal times. It is difficult to predict length of learning curves and the impact of learning curves on productivity. Utilize the vendor’s knowledge for benchmark learning curve estimates.