What needs replacing? Your EHR system or your EHR process?
In determining what changes are needed in replacing your EHR system, you must identify the problems with the EHR system itself and the problems with your EHR processes. Knowing the differences will help you select the most appropriate EHR replacement (if it is required at all).
Examples of EHR system problems:
EHR system problems are those that you will not be able to change without replacing or upgrading your EHR system. These problems will be your list of things to question and avoid when selecting the next system. System problems are inherent to the product, not your staff or practice operations.
A common system problem could be processing issues if your hardware is not well maintained. Slowness due to system problems can be due to a slow server configuration, a slow data center connection, or simply poor network design. Another system problem is poor interfacing and networking between other hospitals, labs, billers and patients. The beauty of electronic health records is the ability to quickly and easily relay protected health information, so the system must be able to interface with other systems.
Another complaint of the system is poor usability and hard to navigate pages. If clinicians find it difficult to input a simple encounter note, the thoroughness of documentation will suffer (note that this could also be a process issue if there was insufficient training). The system should be easy to navigate and follow an orderly layout.
Examples of EHR process issues:
People are the heart and soul of your practice, but can also be the largest problem with smooth operations. Too often we focus on how great the technology or the applications of a new system will be. We forget to consider the competence of the people who will be using the system. We forget to realize that technology can only go so far if the user is not competent in the system. Determine if your personnel are not adequately trained in the current system. Determine if your clinicians have poor morale and have not bought into EHR in general. No EHR system will work if your practice staff do not believe in it.
Slow speeds can be an internal process. Slowness due to outdated or insufficient computers should not be tolerated. Your internet speeds should be addressed. Have your IT team look at cabling, routers, and network configurations. Your slowness could be due to limited server memory or limited hard disk space on a server.
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Another process issue is poorly run operations and front desk tasks. If your practice manager and front office staff are not properly inputting patient and insurance information, you will have delayed and inaccurate billing and reimbursement. Ensure your office staff are keeping close attention to detail.
It is vital that you straighten out process issues before you implement your next system, or you will just run into the same problems again. Try creating workflow charts, reconfiguring job responsibilities, or adding additional personnel to your practice. You must ensure that you have efficient processes in place so that your clinic can run smoothly, when given the new system to implement.
The important thing to remember here is, when you are considering a replacement EHR system, identify the problems with the old one and consider the process currently in place for operating it. this way you will cover both bases, you may also find that with the right process improvements your current EHR system remains suitable for your practice.
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