Measuring Your Success: EHR Implementation
After looking at some Google Analytics, I’ve noticed that a lot of people come to my site after searching for EHR advice, solutions and instructions. For those of you just joining in, this post builds up on two earlier posts: “The Art of EHR Implementation” and “The 10 Commandments of EHR Implementation.”
After covering things related to preparing for and implementing an EHR into your practice, it’s always important to measure whether or not your implementation was a success. It’s also important that your implementation steps are measurable! This means that those “small, achievable goals” need to also be measurable goals. Note that I’m not saying that ALL GOALS need to be measurable (that would be impossible), however, when relevant, make sure you develop a way to measure your success (or failure).
Here are some suggestions for measuring your progress, success, or failure in implementing an EHR into your practice. This assumes that you’ve already selected your vendor. I’m splitting measurement steps into three categories: pre-implementation, test-group, post-implementation.
- Is your committee composed of reliable, knowledgeable individuals? Furthermore, are the people on your committee dedicated to the switch to digital? Make sure they are…all it takes is one sour apple to make you go down the wrong path.
- What are your current patient wait-times? In the waiting-room? In the exam-room? (you’ll use this later)
- How long does it usually take for a patient encounter to be finalized, from beginning of visit to when the file goes back into the cabinet? (you’ll use this later)
- Has the committee come up with a shared list of resources? Think websites, documents, instructions, procedures etc.
- Have you created a comprehensive list of features that your practice desires? It’s important to make a list of WANTS vs. a list of NEEDS (think ONC certification, meaningful use requirements, office logistics, budget)
- Did all members of the test-group get fully trained on the system?
- Are you including all possible scenarios coming from all job positions in your practice?
- Does your staff have the level of self-efficacy with computers that is needed to run an EHR?
- Is everyone clear on the purpose of the test-group?
- How do you define SUCCESS in the test-group phase? Is it complete adoption? Is it full understanding of the product? Is it general consensus to move forward? Depending on this definition, you’ll want to look at specific points of reference.
- Have your wait times increased or decreased? You may want to give this one some time. In almost all cases, wait times will initially increase as your staff gets comfortable with the new system. Eventually, your times should be lower than initially measured pre-implementation.
- Are you providing better service to your patients? Are you using your EHR as an interaction tool or is it just another version of the paper chart?
- Has your workflow improved? Workflows will almost always change as you switch to EHRs. This is just the nature of things. However, your overall workflow should be more efficient and more streamlined. Have you met this goal?
- Is your staff more productive overall? Are you gaining any time/resources from using the EHR or are you throwing away more money?
If all of this seems overwhelming, you may want to consider hiring a consultant. Generally, hiring consultants will provide you with objective, detailed analyses of your practice workflows and your office inefficiencies. Consultants should also provide ways to improve your current procedures to become more efficient. Whether you decide to turn it into a DIY project or hire an outside consultant, remember that the only way for you to measure success is by setting measurable goals and determining, beforehand, how and when you will measure your EHR transition.