For An Otolaryngologist EHR Implementation, Leadership Counts
Whether you are a solo practice or a large ENT clinic, it’s a challenge implementing an electronic health record (EHR) solution. What can make – or break – an EHR implementation starts at the top.
An EHR should be selected based on practice size, the system architecture, certifications and specialty-specific features unique to otolaryngology practices. Those features include, ENT notes and templates, NOAH integration for audiology, ENT surgical workflow and practice management systems. The software you select should be able to handle the number of otolaryngologists in your practice.
Once a vendor is selected, in-house leadership is required during the EHR implementation and adoption process. These individuals play an important role in addressing day-to-day issues related to setting up the new workflow processes and keeping the project moving forward.
Adopting a new EHR or replacing an existing one offers a great opportunity for performance improvements throughout the ENT practice. For example, patient portals allow patients to view lab results online, schedule appointments or request refills for prescriptions. These uses of the patient portal can cut down on call volume for office staff. E-prescribing also reduces paperwork and time spent on the phone. The move to electronic charting also increases efficiency and improves continuity of care.
Practices that fail to take a strong hand during the implementation process run the risk of failure. Here are some leadership tips while implementing a new EHR:
The implementation should be a priority. Set practice strategy and direction, communicate goals and priorities, assign tasks and ensure adequate completion of those tasks to achieve the desired ends. The more planning done up front, the less chance there is of bottlenecks occurring.
Communicate often and early in order to emphasize the importance of the project to the practice staff. Physicians should be involved in designing new workflows. Communication helps counter the anxiety from change. Participant feedback should be collected before, during, and even after the implementation process.
Lay out the projected steps and the overall vision of the project. It is during the transition phase that there is the most uncertainty and fear. Set the strategic goals and lay out your expectations so that everyone understands the changes that are coming. This includes how patients are handled, charting, surgical workflow and billing. If the staff knows what to anticipate, the implementation will go much smoother.
Don’t delegate leadership to those invested in the old system. By putting in charge staff members who are accustomed to a previous EMR system, they tend to ‘carry over’ the old way of doing things, rather than changing the process to take advantage of the benefits of the new EMR.
Don’t neglect training. Not committing the necessary time for setup and training before and after the implementation can put the entire project at risk. Training by clinical and billing experts throughout the process and after the go-live date greatly increases the EHR adoption success and long-term use.
Don’t go back to the old ways. In Kurt Lewin’s Change Model, the final step of the model is refreezing. This is where the new structure and processes are accepted as the new normal going forward. The changes put in place during implementation must be cemented in the organization or there is a risk that people will revert to the old way of doing things.
While selecting an otolaryngology EHR vendor is an important step, engagement from administrative staff or implementation specialists is critical to successfully implementing and optimizing the system. A new EHR will change the way your ENT practice works. Preparing and educating users, while providing sufficient support throughout the process is key to a successful implementation.