Is your agency’s staff feeling a chronic level of frustration with your EHR? This dissatisfaction frequently leads agencies to descend into giving up on their current EHR and feeling that switching to a different EHR system is the only solution. Is this really the wisest course of action to take that will actually solve the problems? Most often, the answer is no.
Before we discuss why changing your EHR may not be the best solution, let us first take a look at a few typical complaints that users have about their current EHR. Do any of these sound familiar?
“It has too many clicks and takes too long to document.”
“It’s missing features we need.”
“The reporting doesn’t fit our needs.”
While these reactions may reflect the users’ opinion or experience, the real answers may lie in training, workflow, and the optimization of underutilized features and functions of your current EHR, rather than starting over with a new EHR system.
Switching your EHR may not be necessary.
There are many factors and implications to consider when thinking about switching your EHR system, namely how it will affect your staff. Consider the training, staff satisfaction, and efficiency implications of replacing your current system and starting over with something completely new. Completely retraining users on an all-new system can be burdensome, and time consuming. The knowledge that your staff has with using the current EHR will be essentially wiped out. It is easy to imagine how long it will take to even get back to where you are now with your current EHR. The process of implementing a new EHR system requires maintaining two systems during the transition and dedicated resources. Can your agency absorb the reduced revenue impact of the transition?
You would probably be surprised to discover how much more your current EHR can actually offer your agency. It is important to know if there are underutilized or unknown features and functions available to your users. Consider requesting additional training on your current EHR system to build on the knowledge and familiarity your staff already has with it. Researching the features that are actually in your EHR that are not currently being utilized and automating various functions can make a world of difference without the major impact on your time, revenue, and costs associated with changing your EHR.
Innovation holds the key to success for EHR software vendors in the wake of the ever-increasing competition. However, regular innovation and changes in features necessitate the increased need for EHRs to offer user educational initiatives to effectively communicate their messages. It is important to find out if your current EHR offers a user education program on new products, features, and functionality. The purpose of a user education program is to reduce the number of issues users face while using the EHR. Education increases customer satisfaction levels, reduces support ticket volumes, improves product adaptability, and much more.
Why switching your EHR system may fail
No two EHR implementations are identical, therefore, there is no one size fits all kind of approach. EHR technology should be adaptable to each provider’s workflow, which is unique to each department and organization. Instead of learning a completely new system and changing the way they work, users should be able to work faster and better. However, this can only happen if the EHR adopts an agency’s specific workflows without disruptions. If not, this is a recipe for disaster.
EHR implementations must consider the people factor, which, if neglected, could be the leading cause of project failure. In such cases, organizations might encounter resistance to technology by way of withdrawal or refusal. To prevent this, the EHR system should be extremely user-friendly with a short learning curve. Critical buy-in and ready skills are crucial to the success of EHR implementation. Proper training helps users understand the fit between their needs and the EHR solution. This also helps alleviate the problems of unrealistic expectations and decreased productivity.
Lack of support
EHR implementation is not the end of the story. In a real sense, it is just the beginning. Offering comprehensive post-implementation support to end users is critical, so they do not feel abandoned and ignored. The EHR provider must make provisions to answer user questions and resolve issues in a timely manner. In addition, ongoing training programs must be available to all users. Surveys and focus groups can be used to evaluate the EHR’s performance, as well as help effectively determine the actual vs. expected outcomes.
Transitioning an organization to a new EHR system requires total commitment and numerous adjustments, and this is often a challenging process. Understanding the principal causes of EHR failure is paramount to minimizing the hazards of implementing a new system, and its potential effects on individual care and agency workflows.
Before switching to another EHR system, consider giving your current EHR vendor the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to meeting all of your agency’s needs. Your honest feedback may provide them with the chance to improve your agency’s overall satisfaction. If you decide it is time to switch EHRs, find out if your former EHR vendor offers options to switch back in the event the new system fails to meet your needs during and after implementation. You may find that the grass was not greener, so having the option to return will give you peace of mind.