Three concerns stakeholders will have about an EHR upgrade

When looking to upgrade an EHR system, it may be difficult to convince stakeholders of its value for the practice. This has recently been shown by discussions over the future one of the largest health systems in the US.

The Congressional Appropriations Committee has made funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ VistA EHR system contingent on several factors, concerning the interoperability of the system with the Defense Department and its long term implications for health reporting. Stakeholders are concerned about how upgrading the system will negatively impact timeliness of implementation, as well as financial cost and usability of the system.

Practices can learn from this example to prepare for their own EHR upgrade. Here are three concerns stakeholders will have about an EHR upgrade and how to dispel these concerns.

1. Financial implications

One of the first concerns that stakeholders will voice will be the impact that the upgrade will have on the financial obligations for the practice. During an EHR upgrade, the practice will need to allocate more money to obtaining, training and implementing the upgraded system. Therefore, stakeholders will push back. For large healthcare organizations such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, a system upgrade is generally a significant investment.

Recommended reading: our EHR Selection Survival Guide gives you a step-by-step breakdown of how to select EHR software to satisfy all your key stakeholder requirements

It is important to clearly outline the long term benefits of the EHR upgrade. Often, the practice will increase their revenue by means of improved billing, coding and reimbursement practices, improved patient retention and compliance with appointments, and by obtaining federal support in the form of payment incentives. Make sure this message gets across to your stakeholders.

2. Practice operations and productivity

Stakeholders will be concerned about how an EHR upgrade will impact the operations of the practice, likely causing decreased productivity and patient dissatisfaction. Additionally, there will be concern about how current patient information is transitioned into the upgraded system. These are valid considerations, as implementing an upgraded system will negatively impact practice operations, for a short while at least. The federal health system runs practices throughout the country. Operational setbacks across the country can mean great patient dissatisfaction and lost productivity.

It is essential that the EHR team have a specific plan outlined for training staff and delegating essential tasks, and responsibilities. If there is a detailed plan in place for implementation and going live, as well as ample training for the clinical staff, then practice operations should return to normal in a short space of time.

3. Interoperability with other health systems and current billing systems

EHR stakeholders will be concerned about how a software upgrade will impact the interoperability between existing systems, such as billing and financials, larger healthcare systems, physician specialties, or federal reporting systems. For example, in the case of the Department of Veterans Affairs the main concern is whether upgrading VistA will impact interoperability with the Defense Department’s EHR system.

Do due diligence in researching the interoperability of the selected EHR upgrade and ensure that the system is operational between all needed systems. If not, then the upgrade may not be the right choice for the practice.

Stakeholders have valid concerns about a proposed EHR upgrade. It is the responsibility of the EHR project team to fully analyze any potential issues and prepare an implementation plan that will ease their concerns. It is best to prepare this plan ahead of time so that concerns do not have a chance to swell and turn into reasons for denial.

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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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