While many clinics have switched over to Electronic Health Records (EHR), some physicians are hesitant to adopt EHR in their clinics. The reasons for the hesitation vary from organization to organization, but there are too many benefits that a clinic can receive from using EHR to pass up the opportunity.
If you have been considering adding EHR to your clinic’s digital toolbox but are unsure if your clinic can handle it, read on. Within the article, you will find information regarding EHR importance and common EHR implementation barriers.
Why is EHR Important in the Current Landscape of the Healthcare Industry?
EHR has excellent value within the healthcare industry for many reasons. One of which is improved order entry. In a 2006 study by the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), senior healthcare finance executives were asked about their practice’s improvements following the implementation of EHR in their practice.
Below are the practices’ improved functions, in order of most significant improvement to least.
- Almost 40% named order entry as their practice’s most improved function.
- 27% named results management as their practice’s most improved function.
- 23% named electronic health information and data capturing as their most improved function.
What are the most common barriers to EHR implementation?
In the previously mentioned study, clinics ranked the following barriers the most significant:
- Over 60% named lacking the necessary code sets and national information standards as the most significant barrier.
- 59% named the lack of funding available to allocate to EHR implementation as their most significant barrier.
- Just over 50% were most concerned with the physician’s ability to transition to EHR.
- 50% named lacking interoperability as their most significant barrier to EHR implementation.
Digging deeper, the following paragraphs list common barriers to EHRs. Remember that your practice is unique, so it might not be affected as strongly by some of the barriers to implementation.
EHR implementation is an investment. As with most investments, adding the tool to your practice’s digital toolbox will involve some cost. While the Return on Investment (ROI) is not significant initially, studies show that EHR systems’ implementation can lead to improved quality of healthcare and around $81 billion saved within the healthcare industry per year.
In addition to the EHR system, there are often other costs. Some of the costs to consider include:
- Costs for equipment necessary for interoperability with other technology devices your practice uses. For example, many EHR systems require specific hardware, networks, or interfaces.
- Staff training costs.
- Costs associated with joining health information networks.
One hurdle often faced by clinics wanting to utilize EHRs is technical limitations. For example, integrating your other clinic systems with your EHR often requires pairing specific devices which are compatible with one another. Prior to adopting an EHR system, ask the vendor questions to gain an understanding of the software’s capabilities.
Also, consider the age of your computers and other devices prior to implementing EHRs in your practice. The age of technology devices can impact the device’s ability to send and receive data. Also, if your practice’s location is in a rural area, that can affect your system and your internet connection- both of which can impact the success of implementing EHR.
Standardized EHRs ensure that data is up-to-date and simplify the gathering of patient information. When used properly, doctors do not need to track down the patient’s medical records, and that makes diagnosing patients’ ailments easier and more accurate. It makes care quicker and reduces unnecessary testing. Lastly, physicians and their patients have continuous access to information about diseases, which can be vital to treating disease within populations. Much progress has been made recently in the standardization of EHRs, and there will surely be more moving forward.
Attitudinal constraints and behavior of individuals
The attitudes of your staff members can also affect successful implementation. Many might be resistant to change or believe they cannot learn to use the EHRs. Unfortunately, that mindset negatively affects the individual’s ability to learn to use the system properly.
Lack of Communication
Communication is key to any team’s success, and your team’s successful adaptation to and implementation of your new EHR software is no different. Some practices do not place enough emphasis on the importance of training and adequate communication among the staff, causing them to be unprepared for the switch from paper to electronic records.
Lack of Proper Planning
Many clinics skimp on planning, but EHR implementation is not the time to skip this step. Assess your clinics’ readiness for electronic records and hold a staff meeting so you can address the staffs’ questions and concerns, as well as make sure all involved know when and how the switch to EHR will happen.
Analyze your clinic’s current digital efficiency and organization. Evaluate your staff members’ computer literacy, your clinic’s access to high-speed internet, the preparedness of your facility, and the access to adequate funding for the change. Additionally, consider how the implementation will align with your practice’s priorities.
Workflows that are well mapped out are essential to successfully implementing EHR in your clinic. You will be adding tasks that will require technology, but you will also remove the necessity for many tasks unrelated to health information technology. For example, you will no longer need to retrieve charts from your filing room. However, you will add the step of electronically connecting to the pharmacy to transfer prescriptions.
How will your new EHR software interoperate with other health information technology within your clinic? This question can be answered by the EHR vendor. Read more about interoperability
Data cleansing, validation, and profiling are necessary when moving your clinic’s data from one system to another. It might be helpful to look into adding IT support to your clinic’s staff. Why data migration?
The overall atmosphere of the clinic, available resources, staff, stakeholders, and patients can all contribute to the outcome of EHR implementation.
The Key Takeaway
The key takeaway is that assessing your clinic and staff’s readiness for EHR implementation, communicating well, and planning the implementation process and workflows allow you to know what your clinic’s strengths and opportunities for improvement are. Additionally, ensure you know how your new EHR software will interoperate with other systems within your clinic’s digital toolbox.
Are you considering adding EHR to your clinic’s digital toolbox? If so, check out this page to learn more about how EHR can ensure your practice stays relevant, improve quality of care, and minimize mistakes.