Last Updated | April 22, 2022
Overview: Guide to Successful EHR Implementation Plan
Every year, numerous healthcare organizations across the globe implement electronic health record (EHR) systems to improve information recording of patient health, but only a few manage to do it successfully.
In 2017, nearly 50% of EHRs failed to provide for healthcare practices and in some cases, organizations failed to utilize them.
Why do these organizations fail to implement an EHR system?
The answer – Little or no planning.
When organizations do not identify potential barriers to successful EHR implementation and do not measure the preparedness before carrying out the execution, they experience a system failure.
If you are somewhere in the process of thinking about adopting an EHR or have already found one to implement, you may also have to experience failure with your implementation without having a proper plan.
An implementation plan is like a roadmap; it presents a clear picture of what steps you need to take to achieve your final goal.
What Is An EHR Implementation Plan?
An EHR implementation plan involves a comprehensive set of strategies, steps, and tools that a healthcare organization uses to adopt the electronic health record system.
The format and content of an implementation plan varies depending on an organization’s expectations and needs of the system- but in most cases, the plan would contain information about the factors such as:
- Software and hardware updates
- The chosen method of adoption and training
- Tentative time frame
- Cost estimates
- Distribution of labor and responsibilities
- Workflow changes
The most effective way to create an implementation plan is to avoid the rush, take sufficient time to collaborate with your team and focus on taking the right initial steps.
How to initiate an EHR implementation plan?
An EHR implementation plan begins with extensive EHR market research keeping the budget in mind.
When you explore the market to look for an EHR for your healthcare practice, you must consider the budget and implementation costs you can allocate.
Most organizations just begin the process without even considering their budget. Hence, they fail to provide adequate resources that lead to successful implementation.
So, to prepare your practice for successful EHR system execution, make sure to keep your budget on top of your mind while planning your implementation. This way, you will know how much you can invest to allocate enough resources throughout the process.
What Are The Four Steps To A Successful EHR Implementation?
Step 1: Choosing an EHR Software and Vendor
Your first concern should be to find the right EHR software and a certified vendor. Look for the vendor that constantly updates software to fix bugs and has introduced some recent versions of the EHR system.
It is best to go with the EHR vendor that has enough experience with software development with HIPAA compliance in the healthcare industry and the one that would respond to your team’s requests promptly.
Step 2: Define Your Implementation Team
For successful implementation to take place, you have to define a team that will be responsible for all the coordination and communication with the software vendor. This way, everyone will know what role they are supposed to play during the implementation.
Assemble a team of people from your practice and make sure they possess the needed skills.
Once you find such a group of people, designate them as:
- Project Manager
- Lead Billing/Finance User
- Lead Trainer for Clerical and Clinical
- Administrative Support Person
Step 3: Educate Yourself
It is never going to work if your teams know everything, and you know nothing.
You must be familiar with how medical software development services work and how you can go about picking the best software for your practice.
So, before you prepare your team for the implementation, get to know a bit about the EHR software market and what different vendors offer.
Then, turn to the vendor you want to work with and ask the following questions:
- Do they offer support in the package?
- How often do they upgrade?
- Do they provide support for workflow structure analysis and optimization services?
- Have they been working for long and consistently with EHR software?
Step 4: Go Live
Once you get all answers to your questions, you can go live. However, going live can be demanding especially with a newly implemented system.
Your team will take time to adapt to the new way of doing things. You can never predict what problems or questions might arise if you begin to use the system in earnest.
So, when you go live, make sure to address the following:
- Delegate particular days and times for the execution so that your team and vendor are all available on the same day to address anything that goes wrong during deployment.
- Hold regular meetings with your staff to make sure everything is going well and no major bottlenecks occur.
- Keep patients in the loop. Inform them about the new system you have implemented and emphasize that it will make the workflow smooth and more efficient to the benefit of patients and staff alike. This way, patients will feel more confident about your new system implementation and will not be reluctant to shift their records to EHRs.
What Is the Hospital EHR Implementation Plan?
If your hospital has worked long with paper records, you might find it a hard task to make a transition from paper charts to electronic health records.
Though it can be a long process, it is worth the effort when you have an implementation plan.
An implementation plan helps you find the best way to implement an EHR in your hospital. In your EHR implementation plan, you have to jot down a detailed account of how you will set up an electronic health record system so that it fits well into your workflow structure.
Ideally, your implementation plan for EHR should focus on three key areas- time, cost, and scope.
- Plan sufficient time frames for the implementation process.
- Consider the resources you can allocate, plus how you can stick to your budget.
- Be clear about your requirements and the features essential for your hospital.
What are the best practices for a successful EHR system implementation?
- Tailor EHR To Fit Within Your Workflow
It is impossible to implement a system that meets 100% of your workflow needs, and you cannot implement a generic system and assume your staff to adjust, either.
So, you must evaluate different aspects of the EHR systems and determine which can quickly adapt to your workflow structure.
To make sure your new EHR system software works for everyone, ask your team for their opinions and recommendations. It will help you learn what your staff needs and how you can tailor the EHR to fit their expectations.
- Identify Potential Failures In EHR Implementation
The more you know about the potential failures of EHR systems, the better you can prepare to address the issues beforehand. To determine what usually causes EHRs to fail, gather input from stakeholders or other organizations. Use that information and talk it out to your vendor and get the help of the vendor to address the barriers.
- Do Not Rush Implementation, Take Time To Train
Implementing a new system in haste and expecting your staff to do well with it is not a great idea.
Do not hurry. Take time and train your team for every step of the process – start with the basics. Then arrange several short training sessions to help your staff learn about the new system and its benefits. This way, they will show more willingness to use the system.
- Eliminate duplication
The new system will serve your purpose when you feed it the right data. If your paper records contain redundant information, you must eliminate it.
If there is more than one paper chart of a single patient, make sure to enter the data only once in the system. This way, the duplicate instances of the same data will not pile up in your new system.
How to develop an EHR Implementation Plan Outline?
Developing an outline for the EHR implementation plan is bound to be a time-consuming task. However, when you define each step in the outline and make it comprehensive, the effort will be worth the result.
You can get started with developing an outline for EHR implementation this way:
- Set a clear roadmap for EHR implementation
- Designate an EHR implementation team
- Define a budget and create financial projections
- Find the software and prepare the hardware and network
- Healthcare UX Design the Launch
- Migrate patient and clinical data to the EHR system
- Create EHR training sessions
- Test the system and plan for going live
What Is A Project Management Plan For EHR Implementation?
A project management plan is similar to your EHR implementation plan outline. However, the information it contains is different.
The project management plan contains information about how your organization is going to manage the resources, communicate the implementation project’s progress, manage project issues, and conduct quality control.
Your project management plan to implement an HER should contain everything about how you plan to:
- Conduct, coordinate, and manage the ongoing practice activities
- Perform quality assurance activities to ensure you achieve implementation objectives
- Monitor identified risks for triggering events
- Distribute information to project stakeholders
- Manage transitions
When you plan everything in advance, you will figure out what potential changes your workflows or hardware will need prior to implementation. So, make sure to create a project management plan before you execute your EHR plan.
What Is the EHR Implementation Plan Timeline?
The timeline for the EHR implementation is simply about how long it can take you to develop a well thought out plan.
Once you have decided to implement an EHR in your healthcare practice and want to be sure about its success, you have to have a realistic idea about the time it can take.
You can consider splitting the planning timeline into milestones which can be an easy way to evaluate the progress throughout the process.
Point to remember – there is no standard timeline for every healthcare organization to follow.
EHR implementation plan timeline varies depending on the size of your practice and the software you have selected.
For example, developing an implementation plan for a small practice will take less time than a plan for a large healthcare organization. Moreover, if you implement a basic EHR software, the planning will consume less amount of time than what it takes for a full-featured customized solution.
However, a typical EHR implementation timeline includes milestones like this:
- Two weeks to three months for demonstrations and evaluation
- One month to three months for making a final selection decision
- One to two weeks for recruiting a team for EHR implementation
- One to six months for developing a change management plan
- One week for fine-tuning your implementation budget
- Two weeks to two months for data audit with HIPAA compliance and migration
- Two weeks to two months (in case of major issues) for software testing
- No exact time for training and preparation as they can go simultaneously with other processes
- One day to go live
What Is An Example Of A Migration Plan For An EHR Implementation?
A migration plan for EHR implementation contains the steps you can take for migrating patient paper record data to your new EHR system.
Here’s an illustration of how you create a migration plan:
Assessment and Planning
- Identify the important data to move to the new system
- Determine how your new system will store the information
- When do you plan to go live? Make it clear if you want migration to begin before or after the execution of the system
- Define the central goal of your practice, whether you want to become a paperless practice or want to become a practice with fewer papers
- Determine which parts of the documents will be scanned. The scanned documents will appear as pictures, so you cannot mine data from them.
- You must define your indexing terms and stick to those while scanning the documents.
- Build a team for overseeing the scanning and manual data loading
- Designate people who will scan and manually enter data
- Once you shift paper records to EHRs, make sure you know whether the paper records will be maintained on-site for some time or will be discarded.
EHR implementation can easily accomplished when you have a well thought out plan in place.
However, even a great plan can fail to meet expectations if you do not execute it well. So, make sure to recruit the right teams, estimate a realistic budget and timeline, understand your requirements for the system, and search for the vendor who just provides the support you are looking for.
Factor all these things in your plan and address the inevitable changes, pivots, and bumps along the road, and it will set you for a successful implementation.
Even if your go-live date is two years away, start planning now.
What is an EHR implementation budget plan example?
There are no standard budgets for EHR implementation because of the uncertainty around the exact costs involved in the implementation process. Since every organization has unique needs, your implementation budget plan will involve variable costs.
However, you can consider this cost estimate while creating your EHR implementation budget plan:
- A cloud EHR will cost you around $26,000 as an upfront cost, $8,000 for a yearly subscription, and $58,000 for 5 Year TCO (Total Cost of Ownership).
- If you go for an on-premise EHR, its upfront cost may go up to $33,000, $4,000 for subscription, and $48,000 for a 5 Year TCO.
Do not take this cost as a read!
The resources needed to start a new EHR implementation plan vary from a small to large healthcare practice, so make sure you talk to vendors and learn about the exact cost your implementation will involve.
What is a plan for changing EHR systems?
A plan for changing EHR systems is just what you need when your EHR system does not fit into your practice workflow.
If your current EHR is lagging and you are frustrated with it, you need to be more careful while changing it and shifting to another one.
To change your EHR system, try a different way to work out the plan:
- Choose your new EHR wisely
- Get to know the data migration process
- Find an EHR dedicated to streamlining transitions
- Consider the long-term maintenance (whether your vendor will provide or it will fall on your shoulder)
- Plan for training staff in advance
- Choose the right timing (not busy or slow times)
- Take the process step by step
How do you evaluate the success of an EHR implementation plan?
You can evaluate the success of an EHR implementation plan by keeping an eye on these signs:
- Patient engagement
You can easily track if your patients are engaged with the new EHR system. To learn about this, check out if patients access their records through EHR.
- Wait Times
Longer wait times indicate workflow problems whereby your clinical staff experiences inefficiency in processing the patients. The best time to measure the wait time caused by EHR is during patient peak hours.
Measuring your financial success or EHR return on investment (ROI) will provide you with a benchmark for how successful your EHR projection has been.
What should be the EHR implementation plan for critical access hospitals (CAH)?
The EHR implementation plan for critical access hospitals (CAHs) should have everything that prepares them for the implementation ahead of time.
- Preparing core teams and discussing the questions of workflow
- Deciding what data will go electronic and what charts will stay on papers
- Troubleshooting the “what if” questions
- Talking about changes to staff and discussing possible ways to make things easier for everyone
- Visiting some other facilities of the same size and talking to them about how they handled issues
What is the EHR SaaS enterprise software implementation plan?
The implementation plan for the EHR SaaS enterprise is similar to how other healthcare organizations develop their plan for EHR implementation. It contains a review and analysis of the practice operations, a detailed account of strategic options for better implementation, the plan for executing the strategy, and appropriate budget and resource allocation.
HL7 vs FHIR: What’s the difference?
Both- HL7 and FHIR- are standards for sharing, exchanging, integrating, and retrieving healthcare data securely. They are developed by the same company and share common goals. However, they are not the same.
HL7 standards have versions like V2 and V3 to facilitate a common communication language among distinct healthcare systems for exchanging healthcare data.
Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) is another type of HL7 standard that addresses some shortcomings of V2. FHIR standards provide a more advanced legacy for exchanging data than V2 and V3.
What are Cerner vs Epic pros and cons?
- Cerner EHR System
- Ensures HIPAA compliance for software development
- Enhances efficiency of healthcare organizations
- Provides consultation for execution
- Facilitates users’ access to real-time data
- Cerner HL7 integration supports secure healthcare data sharing or integration with any medical devices
- Cerner offers customer service 24/7
- Cerner EHR system integration saves telemedicine startup costs for practices
- Cerner does not provide CRM
- Its customer service might become slow at times
- Epic EHR System
- Supports large organizations
- Epic incorporates a CRM
- Provides healthcare app development services
- Epic offers EHR integration or any type of healthcare integration with other medical devices
- Not intuitive system and involves a learning curve
- Offers no consultation service
- Needs a large support and development team, so the Epic system deployment is more costly than Cerner
What are HL7 messages examples and what do they include?
HL7 messages are used for transferring data between various healthcare organizations. These messages are sent whenever an event occurs with a patient such as when a patient is admitted to a hospital.
The common examples of HL7 messages sent across healthcare facilities are patient records, laboratory results, and billing information of patients.