4 people you need for an easy EHR transition

But with the right people on your IT team, your implementation will be a success
By Tim Cannon
10:36 AM

Facing a new electronic health record implementation is like facing the bogeyman of the health IT world. Transition to a new system can be a nightmare. There's staff resistance, technical difficulties, disrupted workflow and a steep learning curve. But as technology advances, transition from one EHR system to the next is often becoming a necessity.

A 2014 survey showed 67 percent of physicians do not like the functionality of their current EHR systems. But an effective EHR is key to increasing efficiency  and reducing costs. For many hospitals, health systems and practices, it may be time to switch to a better system.

Despite the fears of adopting a new EHR system, the transition will be successful with the right IT team. Here are the people you need for a smooth implementation:

The Messenger
Breaking the news to your staff that you're switching to a new EHR system won't be easy. Remembering the challenges of implementing the last system -- many might resist the change. Without proper preparation, the team won't know what to expect and won't be ready to face the new EHR implementation.

Transitioning to a new EHR is scary, and your staff needs someone to fill them in and reassure them that the new system is the best choice. You need a person not only to tell your staff about the move to a new system, but to prepare them for the barriers that lay ahead. You need a knowledgeable team member who can deliver the news, discuss fears, and answer questions. If your staff is mentally prepared and knows what to expect from the beginning, they will be more open to the change. Less staff resistance means a smoother transition.

The Planner
Without a clear plan, EHR implementation can quickly  turn to chaos. Various staff members and teams are involved, and coordinating them as each step of the process rolls out can be a headache. You need someone to organize your staff, layout an implementation plan and timeline, and keep everything moving on the right track.

This member of your IT team needs to be organized, needs to understand the new system and the inner workings of your organization, and be able to keep everyone involved up-to-date on the progress of the transition. It's a tall order, but a critical component to the EHR implementation. Without an organizer with the right knowledge and experience, the transition won't get very far.

The Educator
If you train your staff once the new EHR is up and running, you're training them too late. Your staff needs to be familiar with the new system before the switch, to avoid roadblocks, misuse of the technology, and setbacks in care. You need an educator to get your team up to speed on using the new EHR system.

Leading up to the transition, the educator leads training sessions on the new system and is available to answer questions. This team member needs to be extremely familiar with your organization, to deliver training and advice specific to your workflow. General training will require extra time spent speaking with the support team and troubleshooting when the new system launches.

In the first few weeks or months of the implementation, the educator should be on-hand to address any problems that pop up and answer any practical use questions to keep the system and your staff running smooth and error-free.

The Supporter
It's a month into the implementation  and your staff is frustrated. The new system isn't working as planned and seems to be making work more difficult instead of simpler. Wouldn't it be easier just to scrap the new system and go back to using the one everyone is comfortable with?

The transition from one EHR to another is a long  and difficult process, and you may want to give up halfway through. This is a mistake. Although your staff may be grumbling, quitting in the middle of the implementation is a huge waste of time and money. To avoid this, you need a supporter who will boost team morale when the transition is difficult, listen to problems, determine the cause and find a solution.

The EHR transition is a huge undertaking, and there's a lot of room for error. But with the right people on your IT team, your implementation will be a success.

What do you think? Who else do you need on your team during an EHR transition?

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