EHR Optimization vs. Replacement: Which Side Is Your Healthcare Facility On?

ehr optimization vs replacement

Once your healthcare facility’s EHR system is out of date or has become inefficient, it’s time to start considering an EHR optimization or replacement. Having an electronic health records (EHR) system that satisfies your healthcare team is crucial for patient care, as well as employee retention. In fact, physicians and advanced practice providers who consider themselves “very satisfied” are nearly five times as likely to plan to remain at their healthcare organization.

An in-depth look at levels of satisfaction range widely by specialty with those in hospital medicine, pediatrics, and family medicine the most satisfied—with the least satisfied specializing in pulmonology, orthopedics, and ophthalmology.

Factors that influence satisfaction levels, according to the National Library of Medicine, include “better EHR training, increasing utilization of personalization tools, enhancing functionality, and decreasing documentation burden.” How to achieve these goals can depend upon the current status of your EHR system; the two broad ways to reach them include optimizing your current application or replacing it with another one. How can you tell which one is best?

SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats

Recognizing a degree of dissatisfaction in your current EHR situation gives you an opportunity to look at your current landscape, including a SWOT analysis of both internal processes and external factors.

  • Internally, this can include your unique processes, procedures, and workflows; the level of technological understanding and education in your teams; the status of your technology, overall, including but not limited to your EHR system; and so forth.
  • External challenges range from meeting healthcare regulations to the competitive landscape in your region.

Armed with solid knowledge about your facility’s SWOTs, brainstorm a list of your must-have items in your EHR system as well as wants, and create a list of what isn’t working well in your current one. Then, explore what other EHR applications are available and how well each brand of interest would fit your needs, address current problems, and provide a future-forward system.

Also, investigate what new or still untapped modules exist for your current system. How would the strategic selection of them enhance your current technology to help you achieve goals and reduce or eliminate current challenges? Would doing so boost your end-user satisfaction?

Resources aren’t unlimited, so also consider your healthcare organization’s budget for the project; your IT team’s bandwidth and specializations; and the timeframe for the process.

Through this worthwhile exercise, you will gain a more thorough understanding of your options along with which brand is most likely to meet your current and future needs. If it’s the EHR system that you’re currently using, then EHR optimization is almost certainly the route to take. If not, then a deeper investigation into other choices will help to yield the right decision for a new EHR implementation.

Additional Considerations: Optimize or Replace?

If your healthcare system has or is undergoing mergers and acquisitions or is otherwise consolidating, then a replacement system will likely be needed at some point.

If you’re still on the fence about which is the better choice, consider how effectively you can simplify workflows on the current application, reducing the number of clicks. How practical would that be? How many of the issues do you believe you’d solve with this EHR optimization?

If you decide to replace your current application brand, then data cleaning and migration will become crucial elements of the process. Data integrity is at the heart of a well-functioning and productive EHR system and, to transfer quality data to the new system, your current data must first be closely examined and categorized (archive, de-duplicate, clean to transfer). Mapping must take place to ensure appropriate migration to the new system—and then the actual migration must occur.

Process documentation and training are crucial in either case. The lack of an understanding of how to navigate the system in role-based ways can be the foundation of dissatisfaction. Proper training, meanwhile, enhances technology adoption, which helps people to reduce task duplication and errors and otherwise work more efficiently. This will save your healthcare organization both time and money and allow you to realize a return on investment.

Decision-Making Overview

By having a thorough understanding of your SWOTs, available options, and how they would dovetail with your needs, you can choose the most streamlined and effective pathway available.

Leverage Staff Augmentation

Making the right decision can be a complex process by itself, whether you choose the EMR optimization route or the EMR implementation of a new system. This can be challenging, bandwidth-wise, especially now that it can be difficult to retain or replace in-house IT professionals.

Doing an analysis of your IT team’s available time and specializations may indicate staffing gaps, which aren’t unusual for an EMR optimization or a new EMR implementation. Fortunately, HealthTECH Resources can help from start to finish. We have a deep and wide network of IT professionals with a broad range of specialties, and niche experts can:

  • Collaborate with your in-house team to conduct analyses of your current system and available options
  • Recommend the best route to take for your unique needs:
    • If EHR optimization is the better choice, we can help with:
      • Using your SWOT analysis to supplement with new modules
      • Optimizing workflows to mesh with your processes, streamline navigation, reduce clicks, and improve user satisfaction
      • Project management
      • Process documentation and engaging, interactive training programs
      • Support from start to finish, including after the optimized system is live
  • If EHR implementation of a new system is the better choice, we can help with:
    • Using your SWOT analysis to recommend a new system
    • Implementing, integrating, and optimizing your system for your needs
    • Data cleaning and migration
    • Project management
    • Process documentation and engaging, interactive training programs
    • Support from start to finish, including after the optimized system is live

HealthTECH Resources is a highly experienced boutique-style EMR consulting agency: the fastest and most knowledgeable provider of IT staff supplementation in the industry. We specialize in just one niche—healthcare IT/EMR/EHR services—and our professionals are available as consultants, contract-to-hire professionals, and permanent placements. To discuss your specific needs, please contact us online or call (602) 903-7961 today.