I’ve been through a great deal of EHR implementations, and I can say with authority that they’re often not easy. If there hasn’t been enough training before GoLive then the implementation can go painfully slow, negatively impacting efficiency and patient visits for weeks to come. If the vendor doesn’t provide timely support, or the EHR doesn’t fit the needs of the hospital or clinic, then the frustrations can last for months.
In an article recently published in InformationWeek Healthcare, writer and editor Paul Cerrato talks about this very issue. In the article, he quotes several doctors who complain about the lack of efficiency with EHR. After GoLive, on doctor complains, he’s only seeing 75% of the patients he was before. Another doctor complains that the EHR makes every aspect of the work involved in patient care take much longer than it did before the implementation.
These are common complaints with EHR. However, there is a silver lining here. Although EHR can decrease the efficiency of a clinic in the weeks after implementation, most of the time, efficiency goes back to pre-implementation levels. And when the EHR is tailored to the needs of the clinic, and it’s with a vendor who provides great support (like NextGen), then efficiency increases.
Even if efficiency does drop for awhile, transitioning to EHR is still worth the effort because of the improvements you see with patient care. A good EHR system allows you to spot dangerous drug interactions, it reduces transcription errors, you can email patient reminders about upcoming appointments, and it allows you to show them charts or X-Rays on an iPad or other tablet device.
Patient care is also improved because the office itself is often more efficient; doctors and nurses can spend more time (ideally) talking one-on-one with patients, and the patients themselves often spend less time in the waiting room waiting to be seen.
Cerrato’s article quotes doctor Careen Whitley, who states that even though her clinic’s efficiency dropped with EHR, she still feel that it’s worth it. Although doctor’s might be spending a bit more time with the system, other areas in the clinic do get more efficient.
You can avoid the common frustrations with EHR implementation by first selecting the right EHR vendor. The right vendor, with an excellent record for top-notch support, is key in a successful EHR GoLive and future use.
Cerrato also recommends that doctors refer to KLAS before choosing an EHR vendor, and I agree. KLAS provides objective, third-party reviews of all the major EHR vendors, and it’s definitely worth your time to see what they have to say about the major vendors. You’ll also want to check out the AMA’s “15 Questions to Ask Before Signing an EHR Agreement.”