When beginning an EHR replacement project, it is important to carefully consider your practice's true needs and intentions.
The health IT industry is changing, and an upsurge in EHR replacement makes that change clear. From ever-changing meaningful use requirements to varying practice needs, healthcare organizations find that their original EHR acquisition may not have been the best choice. Upon facing substantial EHR difficulties, these organizations seek to find a better replacement for their technology.
Changing EHR replacement trends can be credited to the ubiquitous adoption of the technology following the meaningful use program implementation and the changing landscape of the healthcare industry.
As more healthcare organizations are expected to replace their EHRs, it is important for them to understand best practices to keep them from having to undergo the same process years down the road. Below are some of the industry’s best advice for successful EHR replacement:
Be thoughtful and patient when determining practice needs
Organizations considering an EHR replacement do so because they have some considerable problem with their existing technology. Because of that, it might be easy for the hospital’s health IT leaders to quickly jump to what they think may be a cure-all solution to their problems.
Industry experts caution against this, explaining that IT leaders should be patient when developing an idea of what they specifically need in a new program. By taking the time to flesh out exactly the kinds of issues the practice has been dealing with, and exploring different options for fixing those issues, an IT team can better assess the direction in which they need to go.
Mark Hess of Stoltenberg Consulting Group, a company which guides practices through EHR replacements, says this has been his most successful practice in helping to facilitate an effective EHR replacement. Choosing a slower EHR replacement process is key to alleviating biases IT teams may have due to failures of old systems.
"Optimally, if we can get them down this road, we see the biases become diluted, they become more objective, and many times they'll come up with a very different decision than they would've had they gone the 90-day or quick-turn process," Hess told EHRIntelligence.com.
"By having corporate site visits, by having several rounds of demos, they come to a different way of thinking about how to make a decision,” Hess continued. “It's more global and enterprise-wide, more strategic in nature, less biased, and really what's best for the organization."
Foster physician buy-in, positive hospital culture
Once IT teams have chosen their new EHR software and taken time to determine new goals for using the software, it is important for them to foster physician buy-in.
Physician buy-in is crucial because if a physician doesn’t believe in the benefits the product promises to display, he won’t use the technology to its fullest potential. Physician resistance to EHR systems is one way that otherwise successful implementations fail.
IT teams and other organizations leaders need to remember that although their EHR system may be changing, it is their hospital culture that will make all of the difference. In a 2015
KLAS publicationImplementation Potholes 2015: How to Smooth Out the Ride, researchers explain that an EHR vendor can’t change practice culture; only leaders can.
One of the best ways to facilitate physician buy-in and promote good morale and positive workplace culture is to emphasize the patient safety benefits an EHR system will bring. IT leaders should also emphasize the long-term benefits of the system to negate the short-term difficulties providers are sure to face in replacement.
Showing executive commitment to the provider may also boost morale and facilitate positive culture. Providing ample help resources to providers when implementing an EHR was one way Avera McKennan CEO Dave Kapaska, MD, was able to see success.
“We tried to put as much help at the shoulder as we could so they weren’t left swimming at sea with the process,” Kapaska said. “[We] just committed ourselves both as on the administrative side but most of all on the physician side to get this to a point where it was functional and efficiently effective.”
Consider meaningful use changes
A new added foil to the EHR replacement issue is the impending change to meaningful use requirements.
Since the start of meaningful use, many providers have shaped their EHR adoption and replacement intentions around meaningful use requirements. However, since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS’s) Andy Slavitt’s announcement that the meaningful use programs will essentially be broken down and restructured, providers will have new meaningful use concerns.
Per Slavitt’s announcement, the meaningful use programs will most likely focus more on provider needs to give quality care to the patient rather than abiding by sometimes arduous government requirements. Because of this, IT teams will need to take into account provider needs when selecting potential EHR replacements.
IT teams may have more EHR options going forward, too. Slavitt explained in his statement that one of the tenets of the future meaningful use is flexibilities for vendors to develop systems that cater to provider needs. This could make all of the difference when approaching EHR replacement.