Getting Patients Involved with Your EHR Implementation: Part II

So, last week I wrote about getting patients involved with your EHR implementation. I talked about why it’s important, and how to get started keeping your patients in the loop about the EHR transition.

Again, the reason why this communication is so important is because EHR directly affects the care your patients will be receiving at your hospital or clinic. They’re going to have questions about the transition, and they’re going to want to know how it affects them. It’s up to you and your staff to make sure they have the information they need, and deserve.

In this post, I want to over some communication Do’s and Don’ts with your patients.

Do:

1. Create a Communication Plan

Everyone on your staff has a different role to play when communication information to your patients. Your front desk staff will likely need to relay basic information, and have the knowledge and tools on-hand to answer introductory questions. Your intake and nursing staff will need to show patients EHR demos, and relay the most important benefits.

Physicians will be relaying the most advanced information, showing patients their charts on the screen or tablet, pulling up lab reports and test results, and communicating the benefits the EHR will give them with their prescription drugs.

It’s important to map out which teams are going to convey which information; this will help the communication process go smoother.

2. Utilize Demonstrations

It’s going to be difficult for many patients to visualize what you’re talking about with EHR. So, make sure you have a plan for demonstrations. The more your patients can see what you’re talking about, the more they’re going to understand this new system, and be excited about the upcoming change.

3. Find Out How they Feel

After GoLive it’s helpful to survey your patients to see how they feel about the transition, and how they think your staff is handling the communication process. You could create a brief survey for patients to fill out once they check in, or even send out an email to all patients that have come into your clinic since GoLive.

Don’t:

1. Don’t Assume Anything

Don’t assume your patients know and understand technical jargon. Many won’t even know what “EHR” is, or stands for. So, coach your staff to explain things in layman’s terms.

It’s also important not to assume your patients will want to talk about the new system. Patients that are sick, or going through intense treatments, feel awful. It’s unlikely they’ll even care about the EHR transition at the time. These patients will likely benefit most from a brochure or information sheet they can take home, to read when they’re feeling better.

2. Don’t Be Brusque

There’s a good chance you’re going to hear the same questions over, and over, and over again. There’s also a good chance some patients will have some, well, outrageous concerns about their medical records being digitized.

Make sure that everyone on your staff knows to be sensitive your patient’s concerns, no matter what those concerns are. Remember: there’s no such thing as a stupid question.

Final Word

Most of your patients are going to want to know what’s happening with your transition to EHR. After all, this is the one change that will affect every one of them directly. Many clinics make the mistake of not planning out the communication process. And it’s easy to do…after all, there’s so much other stuff to think about with EHR that communication this change to patient’s often takes a back seat to more urgent matters.

You can combat this by starting to plan out the communication process as soon as you have your EHR vendor selected. The more you plan in advance, the better the process will be with your patients.

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