Like most projects, success is achieved through careful planning. Changing from an electronic medical record (EMR) that no longer fits the needs of your home health or hospice agency is no small feat. The idea of change can make some feel overwhelmed. The right EMR vendor will take you through a roadmap for success from the first day you engage with them.
Below we have highlighted some of the top reasons that implementations fail and why finding the right partner is the top ingredient in the recipe for success.
Gaining Stakeholder Buy-In
Without stakeholder buy-in and engagement, the implementation will surely fail. As we already pointed out, the right EMR partner should be providing you with a clear roadmap to success from day one. They should lay out for you the milestones and timelines that need to be hit throughout the entire process leading up to implementation. It should also include a stakeholder assessment to help you, as the project leader, gauge your stakeholders and create an influencing strategy. As the project leader it is necessary to pick a diverse team of stakeholders. It should be balanced between managers, clinicians and back office personnel. Everyone should have an equal voice and opinion during the process. Not EVERYONE, of course, but a respected and influential representative from each key area of the business. Otherwise, there will be lots of head bumping and project delays. If you only have clinicians driving the process, they will put a heavier weight on ease of use, which will most likely leave operations struggling to live with the implementation aftermath of software that doesn’t fit their needs and increased process steps to meet compliance.
A Change Management Plan
A proper change management plan has one key attribute: Positivity. You will always have naysayers. Not everyone embraces change. The fear of the unknown can be scary. As the project leader it is your responsibility to take an active approach to stem the negativity that surrounds change. Communication is key and outlining the needs of your agency as well as the specific challenges and how you will overcome them, will go far in quieting resistors. And if you have picked change agents as your stakeholder team, it will go a long way in helping you to manage the process of change. Be sure not to confuse freethinking with resistance, as it will be useful to have those that see things from the other perspectives if you desire to answer the right questions. Just keep focusing on the positive and how the change will affect them in a way that helps them do their jobs faster and more efficiently.
Neglecting Team Members Who Have Experience in Implementations
Don’t forget to add team members that have gone down this road before. They will remind you of past pitfalls and help you avoid them. In some cases, they will also be your best change agents because they will answer the negative comments before they come up. Be sure to position them well within your buy-in group to help mitigate future troubles.
Lack of Reinforcing New Behaviors for the Change
There will be a need for champions to take the new changes forward and reinforce the project. There was a reason you have gone down this path, don’t let anyone forget those reasons and occasionally remind every one of them. Following through with proper and timely communications at different intervals during the implementation will be necessary to stall fears and to protect office moral. Remember, this will be not being an easy task and fears will come. It is necessary to keep reminding every one of the “whys” that are involved in making the change and to stay on track.
Lack of Training and Follow Through
Most times, an implementation fails because everyone thinks they are done once the product is implemented. In most cases, this is when the hard work begins. This is when the negative comments will start taking hold and will push back your efforts if training and follow through do not occur. Be sure to create a time line of events and structured training for each department. Identify the major needs of each group and be sure that the product is taking care of those needs on the front end. Once implementation occurs, follow-up with each stakeholder to make sure they are on track with the change. Make certain that when you select an EMR partner, you take into account their approach to training. Some vendors will provide training and then leave. And that’s it. No follow up. No ongoing training. They are just focused on making their sales quota so they are onto find the next customer to sign. Training and education is a big part of cultural fit so make sure their view on training aligns with yours.
No implementation is easy, and that must remain at the forefront of your mind. But it doesn’t have to be difficult either. Properly executed, an agency can transition to a new EMR with success. With the right EMR partner, you should not be afraid to move forward with confidence.