Even after having an EHR system successfully in place for a while, the EHR company will continually roll out software updates. This means that to continue to take advantage of the best, most modern version of your EHR technology available, you’ll need to regularly schedule EHR upgrades of your system: perhaps every year or two.
An upgrade may come with new modules, services, and capabilities. It may be designed to help you meet new regulatory requirements or to address flaws in the current version—or both.
Although an EMR upgrade doesn’t typically involve the same amount of planning and time as when you implemented an entire system that’s new to your healthcare organization, each upgrade can take, on average, about six to nine months. Here are seven tips to make yours a success.
#1 Gain Clarity on What the Upgrade Will Change and Accomplish
This step is important for multiple reasons, including how it makes sense to ensure that an upgrade—rather than an EHR replacement with another system—is best for your facilities. It’s natural, right before an upgrade, to notice some inefficiencies that didn’t exist when you first implemented the system. In most cases, the EMR upgrade will efficiently address them. However, if your healthcare system has experienced any merger/acquisition activities or another type of system consolidation, a replacement EHR system should at least be considered.
Being aware of the specific elements of the upgrade will help with the overall planning of the upcoming process, including but not limited to knowing how the application itself will change. Find out which of these changes you can accept or reject (and which ones you can’t) and how they’ll affect how end users would navigate the upgraded application.
#2 Consider Evolving Technical Requirements
With an EHR upgrade, the technical requirements for the upgraded system will almost certainly change. This includes hardware and software. So, as you investigate what an upgrade will change, look carefully at the technical aspects and how your organization will need to adapt.
Plus, you must determine how third-party software will be impacted by the EMR upgrade. How will these applications interface with the upgraded system? Although your EHR company of choice should be able to discuss how their upgrade will affect the system itself, they will likely not have expertise in the third-party applications integrated into your healthcare facility’s technology. This means that you’ll either need an independent analysis of each one of these systems or reach out for professional EHR consulting services.
#3 Factor in the Patient Experience
Determine if the EMR upgrade will affect patients and their usage of portals. If there will be changes, decide how to notify and educate patients who will have widely varying levels of knowledge about and comfort with technology.
According to HealthIT.gov, in 2020, nearly 40 percent of people across the country accessed a patient portal. This is 13 percent higher than percentages in 2014, which indicates a growing reliance upon this technology—which means it’s increasingly more important to consider the patient experience in your EHR upgrade planning.
#4 Request Input From End Users Across Roles
Just like when initially implementing an EHR system, there will be opportunities to optimize the software during a typical upgrade. So, now is the time to ask for feedback from end users: how they feel about the application’s current setup and how seamlessly they can navigate the software.
Moving through the next steps—the implementation, optimization, and integration phase—you can look for opportunities to address these issues.
#5 Create a Plan to Implement, Optimize, and Integrate
The implementation of an EHR upgrade will take planning, including but not limited to deciding which of the optional upgrades to incorporate. The process will also include optimizing the application to dovetail with workflows and integrating the upgrade into your overall technology.
#6 Offer Training Programs to All Groups of End Users
Document all changes related to how the end user experience will change, and use this process documentation to create engaging training programs and reference manuals. The best EMR upgrade in the world isn’t useful if your healthcare organization’s teams can’t navigate the updated application.
#7 Analyze Your In-House IT Team and Augment Staffing Gaps
Thinking back to when you first implemented your EHR system, you may remember the skill sets needed; you’ll need similar ones to upgrade to the latest version of your application. So,
as you consider each of the first six steps in this blog post and otherwise ponder over the expertise and experience you’ll need for your project, determine which of them your in-house team can handle. Then, you can turn to EHR consulting professionals to seamlessly fill in the gaps.
HealthTECH Resources can help with this analysis and rapidly supplement your staff for your upcoming EMR upgrade, including for:
The healthcare industry continues to quickly evolve, and so do the EHR technologies needed to keep up with its requirements. Here’s how HealthTECH Resources fits into this continual evolution to provide the EHR consulting services you require. We:
- Take our time to truly understand what you need now and how this fits into your long-term growth goals
- Provide EHR consultants with the subject matter expertise and human touch you want and need for successful project outcomes; this is true whether you’re:
- A large health system
- An academic medical center
- A public health organization
- Concentrate specifically on healthcare to further strengthen our service offerings and to continue to support innovations that improve how people work and how people heal
- Improve workflows for our country’s essential workers so they can focus on what matters most: their patients
Contact us online to get started today!
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.