When planning for an EHR implementation, a change management strategy will need to be factored in. This strategy should allow you to systematically transition from your current system and status to one that optimally leverages your new EHR system.
At a high level, this will involve analyzing your healthcare facility’s present situation; identifying areas where change will occur; assessing the impact of changes on the healthcare organization; creating a change management plan; communicating the plan to all key stakeholders; implementing the system; and determining its success.
The benefits of a quality change management strategy includes a smoother transition from your old EHR to your new one that minimizes disruptions and maximizes the likelihood of end-user adoption. To help, here are seven ways to integrate successful change management strategies into an EHR implementation.
#1 Get Organizational Buy-In First
Creating a shared vision that’s both practical and aspirational, communicating it effectively, and getting buy-in for the vision across every level of the organization is recommended. This includes but isn’t limited to buy-in from the executive level. Your vision should clearly lay out your future plans for your healthcare organization, demonstrate the benefits, and motivate others to embrace its aspirations. Describe the vision so that people can understand and envision—highlighting ways in which your healthcare facilities will become part of an even more in-demand organization.
#2 Share How the Vision is Achievable
You may decide to have an overall meeting about the new vision, but then also hold smaller meetings with each broad user group. In those meetings, break down the vision—including how the changes will specifically impact them and the associated benefits—in ways that are clear, practical, and realistic. Share goals and objectives for the group you’re addressing, while building in flexibility as the EHR implementation evolves.
#3 Solicit Feedback
Recognize that the most thought-out, carefully crafted vision—no matter how well it’s being communicated—will likely meet with some resistance. Try not to see this as a negative reaction; it means that people are invested in the workplace and how it operates. Instead, be prepared to listen to feedback; answer questions in ways that relate to the roles of the people asking questions; and incorporate relevant feedback into the vision going forward.
#4 Capture Documentation Throughout the EHR Implementation
You’ll want to create a system that allows your teams to seamlessly interact with patients and provide outstanding care. Workflows that facilitate this should be designed during the EHR implementation and optimization stages; as each step is taken, the impact on people and processes alike should be considered. When it affects people—whether that’s a group of healthcare employee end users, your patients, or the IT teams themselves—clearly document information. You can use this data for employee training sessions, patient education, and so forth.
Gathering this information is actually part of the change management process because it can then be used in step five: training programs.
#5 Create Engaging, Interactive Training Programs
During an EMR implementation, it’s natural for the focus to go on the technical aspects of the process. Make sure, though, that you keep people affected by the changes front of mind, assuring them that they will have all the training they’ll need to seamlessly navigate the new workflows before the system goes live. It’s only human nature that, when relevant information is not readily available, people will make guesses about what will take place—which can lead to the circulation of incorrect (even unnecessarily alarming) information.
Learning is an iterative undertaking, so provide training in manageable chunks and reinforce it through refresher programs, training manuals, and so forth. The more that you can engage end users in the process, the easier it will be for all parties; so include different methods of imparting information: verbal, written, spoken, images, and so forth.
#6 Provide Easy to Understand Patient Education
Before patient portals were so widely used, training programs and change management initiatives largely focused on in-house teams. In today’s world, though, EMR implementation strategies must take patient usage more into account as you design workflows. Nearly 40 percent of people across the nation, in 2020, accessed a patient portal, according to HealthIT.gov; this figure is 13 percent higher than in 2014, indicating a growing acceptance and reliance on this technology. So, successful change management initiatives must include educating and supporting patients as they use their portals.
#7 Measure Progress and Keep Stakeholders Engaged
Change management is not a set-it-and-forget-it process. After you’ve developed and shared your vision and gained buy-in, you’ll need to provide and communicate project benchmarks. Proactively recognize and celebrate achievements in the EMR implementation process in ways that are clear and easy to understand. As just one example, training goals can be listed and monitored to show how many end users have completed the program and feel proficient in the application’s navigation.
Change Management Success
Much of EMR implementation projects focus on deadlines and dollars, which are important—but how well people adopt the new technology is a key indicator of success. EMR implementations are multi-faceted projects and, if you discover staffing gaps in the required skill sets, that’s not unusual. Fortunately, we can help.
At HealthTECH Resources, we have a deep and wide network of professionals who can help from start to finish or with a niche portion of the project; it’s your choice.
We have specialized knowledge of:
- Epic implementations
- Oracle Cerner implementations
- Allscripts/Altera implementations
- MEDITCH implementations
- NextGen implementations
As part of the EHR implementation process, our experts—available as consultants, contract to hire professionals, and permanent placements—offer the following services:
- System selection
- Legacy application support
- EHR Upgrades
- EHR optimization
- Data migration
- EHR system testing
- EHR training and process documentation
- Go-live support
- Follow-up data collection and analysis
Contact us online today, we have specialists standing by who can help you get connected with the right EHR implementation professionals.
PRESIDENT/CEO AT HEALTHTECH RESOURCES
Larry has specialized in building strategic healthcare relationships for over 25 years, helping the nation’s top payors and providers solve some of their most pressing business challenges through an intelligent mix of staffing services, training, and consulting.