How to execute a successful EHR go-live

The go-live period of EHR implementation, much like the broader implementation period, presents its own set of risks and accompanying considerations which practices should keep in mind. The EHR go-live period will present the first opportunity for a practice to observe how their chosen software performs: users are able to use the system in real-life conditions, meaning that the risks of declines in productivity, revenue drops, and declines in the quality of patient care are greater than normal. Executing a successful go-live period depends on minimizing the risks mentioned while getting the users and system operating at optimal efficiency as soon as possible. The following tips provide a foundation of information organizations can build upon to execute a successful go-live period.

Keep all parties informed

Just as is the case during the selection and implementation, the EHR go-live planning process should involve keeping key stakeholders up to speed on the project progress. Key stakeholders include a cross-section of users that can keep the implementation team and the vendor’s representatives apprised of any issues or concerns during go-live.

Set goals for the EHR go-live

The entire implementation process should be goal oriented, as such it reasons that the EHR go-live process should also adhere to a set of goals. Goals for the go-live period should be reasonable in that users should not expect to jump on the new system and their work will change instantly for the better. Like any other software, new users will need to adapt how they conduct their work to new processes and will require time to begin to learn how to use the system to their advantage.

Support users during EHR go-live

When going live, even the best training may not fully prepare users to be completely proficient on a system. As such, organizations should provide adequate on-hand support resources available to offer any technical support to clinical and ancillary staff.

Choosing a big bang or phased approach

Implementation teams can elect to deploy their EHR in a single event, referred to as a big bang go-live, or a phased approach which, as the name implies, involves an incremental approach carried out in phases. When considering a go-live strategy it is important to consider the risks and benefits to each approach. Firstly, conducting one go-live means if there are problems they may be amplified across the entire organization. For a small practice this may be an easy solution, but for a larger organization there might be a significant risk, however, the go-live process can be shortened with this approach.

A phased approach takes a longer time to execute, however for larger, more complex organizations the benefit of a phased approach rests in the fact that the smaller scale of the operation, since it is broken into segments, allows the go-live team to more easily address any problems that may arise or apply lessons learned in earlier phases of the go-live process to subsequent phases.

Planning with an eye toward minimizing any of the usual EHR implementation pitfalls that can arise is ultimately the foundation of a successful go-live process. However, as important as planning and stakeholder involvement is in the process, it also important to be flexible when carrying out the process given the uncertainty of rolling out any software into a live setting.

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Jeff Green

About the author…

Jeff Green, MPH, JD works as a freelance writer and consultant in the Healthcare information Technology Space.

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Jeff Green

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