How an actionable EHR project plan can ensure system success

Adapting, changing or upgrading an EHR system will impact the entire medical practice. Therefore it is essential that the practice utilize an actionable EHR project plan to ensure system adaptation, implementation and success.

The 6 key components to an actionable EHR project plan include:

1. A motivated team

The EHR project team is vital to the success of the selection and implementation. The team size will vary depending on the practice, but should include a project manager, lead clinician, financial and legal member, as well as IT member.

Recommended Reading: EHR Selection Survival Guide - The ideal companion to your EHR project plan

The project manager will lead the EHR implementation project and should be an experienced and vested member of the administrative or clinical teams. A strong clinical leader will help bring about user buy-in and serve as a resource for implementation. The financial and legal resource will ensure that the system is financially feasible for the practice and meets legal requirements. The IT input will ensure that proper systems and hardware are in place.

2. Satisfactory hardware

Part of your EHR project plan must consider the equipment on which the system will be implemented. There should be clear direction regarding requirements for security, networking and equipment needed to implement and run the EHR system.

3. Security and privacy

There should be a plan to determine what steps need to be taken to ensure patient information is kept confidential, following all guidelines outlined by HIPAA. User access rules should be planned for patient confidentiality. The network must be secure as well. The EHR team should first identify the security needs and then create a plan for implementation.

4. Integration and communication

Another part of the EHR project plan should include practice staff determining what type of interfacing and communication is needed for their specific office. Examples of integration include practice management systems, laboratory services, E-prescribing, patient portals, billing to insurances and patients, as well as reporting to CMS). Once the needs are determined, they can be analyzed at the time of vendor selection to make sure all software components work together.

5. Communication and education for staff and clinicians

The practice must recognize that the clinical and support staff are the employees that will be most affected by the EHR system, and must be given ample training and education before, during and after implementation. The team must listen to all concerns and be prepared for a decrease in productivity initially. Regular meetings and timelines should be established to ensure smooth implementation.

6. Financial projection

There should be a realistic financial projection during the planning and implementation periods, as the new system will impose increased financial strain on the practice in the short term, while the implementation will cause a decrease in revenue with lost productivity. The practice should be prepared for this and plan accordingly.

These key aspects help guide the entire selection process by providing a pathway for analysis and critiquing of potential EHR vendors. When a practice implements an actionable EHR project plan, it can ensure success of implementation and the success of the new system.

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Amy Vant

About the author…

Amy Vant is a doctor of physical therapy and clinical director for an outpatient physical therapy clinic in the United States. She has experience utilizing and implementing many forms of medical documentation through various healthcare practice venues. Amy enjoys writing about healthcare administration strategies, including electronic health record systems.

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Amy Vant

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