Part II: Ditching Your EMR For a New One? Here’s How To Prepare

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For this post, we are going to be looking at how we can leverage what we already know from our experience of implementing and managing an EMR system in our office.

If you missed the previous post, scroll back or click on this link.

Chip, for those of us that are thinking about replacing our EMR, surely we can take advantage of the lessons we’ve learned and use them during this transiton, right? What are some of those lessons?

Take advantage of the fact that you should have suffered through the learning process of managing your IT infrastructure at this point. If your remote office connection is finally broad enough, you’ve nailed down the tablets you like to use, and your wireless interference issues are resolved, your second EHR experience will benefit greatly as a result.

If it happens that you still have significant hardware or networking problems with your existing EHR, you should make every effort to resolve them before your new EHR is in place or you will drag your bad experience into the new world.

Now that I’ve figured out my wireless challenges and hardware needs, what is next in terms of leveraging our experience?

When you migrated to your first EHR, you had to answer important questions about the flow of people through your office, many of them for the first time. How do we get paper into the EHR? How do we find our nurses? How do we manage orders? Who is in charge of our clinical protocols?

Use this understanding to your advantage and identify how your new EHR will fit into your existing patterns.

Work flow needs, check. What else?

This time around, you know how much and what kind of training you need. Chances are that you didn’t get enough training the first time around. Or that you had access to sufficient training but not everyone – particularly the doctors – took advantage of it. Recall how your first EHR on-line went and mandate full training for the new EHR.

No matter how cool the new EMR appears, there seems to always be featrues that the docs love in the old EMR that the new EMR doesn’t have. What can we do about that?

Every EHR has features in it that the users love, even if the balance of the EHR feature set is negative. Isolate those few features you can’t imagine living without and discuss them with your new vendor. Perhaps the new EHR has a similar or even better feature set.

The real trap to look for here are those features that have become a definitive part of the flow in your office that will no longer exist, for better or worse. You will need to figure out how to redirect the flow in your office before you go on-line.

One of the things that bores me to tears in business, is having to read contracts. But of course, contracts are very important. Especially the ones you have to sign. Talk a little bit about what to look for in our new contract with our new EMR vendor?

Your last EHR contract may have made things difficult. If there are any terms from your existing EHR client that made things difficult for your practice, such as the inability to extract data from your own EHR, now is your chance to do it right.

All this time we’ve been talking about the EMR, but what about the practice management system?

The often overlooked project in any EHR installation is the relationship with the billing process. At the very least, all of the questions you’ve addressed relating to your EHR need to be addressed, again, with your PM. Will you need to change PMS? Do you have new third party relationships to manage (such as a clearinghouse)? Are there features of your PMS that you can’t live without or will require significant retooling once it changes?

Too many practices overlook the impact of a system change on the most important department in the office.

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I hope you found this discussion useful. By the way, I know Chip tried very hard to keep this discussion vendor agnostic. If you work for an EMR vendor or have switched EMRs and have something to add or correct Chip on, feel free to drop me a note.