Getting a good start: The importance of successful EMR implementation

If you are selecting a new EMR system for your home health or hospice agency, you may think that you’ll be able to run a modern and digitally-optimized operation right away. This feeling is just human nature – that desire to skip all the preliminary work and get right to the good stuff, like wanting to have a shiny new addition on your house without picking up a hammer. But if you signed on the dotted line for a new EMR with visions of an immediately well-oiled agency running through your head, the harsh reality is that you won’t only be setting up a new EMR, but setting up your agency for failure.

In other words, successful implementation is one of the most important aspects of adopting a new EMR system. If this set-up phase is neglected or glossed over, your home health or hospice agency will suffer. After all, without knowing how to use the new software correctly, clinicians and administrative staff are likely to throw up their hands in frustration, and as a result, they inadvertently compromise patient care amid the stress and confusion.

That’s why getting off to a good start is vital to making a new EMR system worthwhile.

There are a few specific major issues that need to be addressed as part of the process – let’s take a closer look at each so you can overcome EMR implementation challenges and set your agency up for success:

A customized EMR implementation plan is essential 
Templates for training programs and EMR implementation timelines are often used for the sake of efficiency. The idea is that having a standardized approach to set up will streamline workflows and make things easier for everyone. But this isn’t usually the result, as every single hospice and home health agency has different needs, quirks and challenges. As the ROI Institute noted, failing to match up an implementation strategy with specific business needs is one of the most common reasons that training programs fail. That’s why it’s important to work with a vendor that crafts a customized software implementation plan that fits your agency’s unique characteristics, meets your particular objectives and even responds to specific needs of your patient population. The personalized attention will go a long way toward a successful EMR implementation.

When it comes to implementing a new EMR, making sure everyone is on the same page is essential.

EMR implementation needs to be a team effort 
Pushing a new EMR system on staff members without thoroughly involving them in implementation is a one-way ticket to spurring employees to decide they’ve had it with the whole thing. It’s incredibly important to approach EMR implementation as a team effort that involves buy-in from everyone at all levels of your agency, from leadership to clinicians and office staff, as a study on technology implementation published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association noted. A team approach spans the gamut from establishing project managers and clinician champions for the new system to prioritizing a vendor that offers in-person, attentive support during the set-up process.

And it can’t be rushed
With all the changing regulations and resulting pressures that home health and hospice faces, it’s no wonder that there’s a shared desire to get things done as fast as possible in order to keep up. But rushing timelines and training for EMR implementation only builds an unstable foundation that will crumble eventually. Be generous with the time you allot to the process, keep staff constantly updated on the progress of the implementation and build in ample time for them to take part in in-depth training. Also, give everyone the opportunity to voice any questions or concerns they have. Slowing down now saves time wasted on fixing problems in the future.

Beneficial EMR use is significantly influenced by how the implementation process goes – which comes down to the type of software vendor with which you partner. With its award-winning NDoc® EMR solution, Thornberry Ltd. approaches each and every relationship with the importance of this sensitive set-up stage in mind. Through customized training plans, dedicated implementation personnel, on-site, experienced trainers and more than 20 years of experience empowering hospice and home health agencies, you can rest assured you’re making the right move with Thornberry.