Breaking-up is Hard to Do

Your Electronic Health Record (EHR) system is the administrative workhorse of your organization. It touches virtually every component of patient care – from first appointment details to claims. It can even be said that you develop a relationship with your EHR. Just like getting to know a person, you learn its strengths and weaknesses and how it behaves in certain situations. Your relationship with your EHR can have its ups-and-downs.

Unfortunately, many organizations are in a bad relationship with their EHR. In fact, a survey conducted in 2014 found high “levels of frustration, with 73% (of organizations) saying they wouldn’t purchase their current system (again).” If we were to take the analogy a bit further, we could say that a lot of organizations want to break-up with their EHR.

The study went on to conclude, “while providers may not believe the cost of switching EHRs is worth it, the push to improve workflow and achieve greater functionality… may outweigh those financial concerns in the end.” So, why are organizations that say they are unhappy with their EHRs reluctant to make a change because it isn’t “worth it?”

Like many relationships that aren’t working, it can be difficult to imagine yourself moving on to something new. Let’s examine some common concerns about switching EHRs.

Perceived barrier: I won’t be able to access my patient information and changing EHRs will interrupt coordination of care.

With adequate planning, there should be no interruption in patient record access. Most EHR vendors recommend a ‘wind-down’ period of several months for the old EHR system. Even when the legacy system is brought off-line, there should still be access to information when necessary.

Ultimately, most healthcare providers find that the functionalities available in their new systems improve patient outcomes and in no way affect patient care.

Perceived barrier: Changing systems will disrupt my workflow and slow-down everyone’s productivity.

As with any software change, it can take time to learn a new system. There are two ways to handle this: either make the commitment to a smooth transition or don’t. Those organizations that commit make it clear to staff they need to embrace the change because it will ultimately benefit everyone – including patients. They also invest time in all levels of staff training leading up to the change, and then follow-up with training periodically after the transition to keep up with software updates. With a well-thought-out transition, most users will find they LIKE the new system after they fully understand its capabilities and feel comfortable using it.

Those organizations that don’t prioritize staff buy-in and training find themselves in a never-ending cycle of frustration. And unfortunately, negativity is hard to un-do after it has taken hold.

Perceived barrier: A change isn’t worth the return on investment (ROI).

EHR automation has come a long way in a few short years. Even if your system is relatively new, you may be surprised by the capabilities of today’s software. There are two critical factors when considering ROI. One is the in-office labor that will be saved with specific functionalities of the new system; for example: checking insurance eligibility and performing pre-authorization in some cases, and direct voice transcription to patient records in others. Finding software that is scalable to cover your needs now and offer flexibility for easy expansion in the future (so you don’t need to change systems again) is the ideal.

The second factor to consider is how a new system can impact the visibility you have into operations. Many EHRs now offer analytics and benchmarks which can help you fine-tune processes and improve workflow and profitability.

How do you decide what to do? An objective audit of your system will pinpoint what you need from an EHR moving forward and is the best place to begin if there are troubles in your relationship. From there, you can decide whether you want to work it out with your EHR, or part ways because there is a better fit.

Think it might be time for a change? Contact us at (412) 424-2260 to learn more about how we can help.

Since its founding in 2000, Virtual OfficeWare Healthcare Solutions (VOWHS) has provided a complete platform of clinical and business performance products, including Centricity Practice Management and Electronic Health Records as well as integrated auxiliary solutions to enhance the Centricity experience. In addition to product sales, VOWHS offers personalized implementation, training, support, hosting and customized programming & reports.

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