Never before has adopting an EMR system been so inexpensive for the small medical clinic in the United States. You can thank the Feds for that. Yes, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (otherwise known as “the Stimulus Package”), is the prime suspect here, as it has offered huge benefits to doctors that show meaningful use of an EMR software system. The concept behind the offer is that effective use helps the Healthcare industry, and the government is willing to reimburse you for that assistance.
The stimulus plan is effective not only for practitioners, but for the healthcare industry itself, which has needed medical record standardization for years. But what many doctors don’t understand is that adopting an EMR system is different than adopting most software applications. In fact, in order to receive the quickest return on investment with EMR, doctors need to ensure the adoption plan is detailed, precise and complete.
While shady developers have stepped into the industry in hopes of stealing away free government money, they tend to be very noticeable. These are often the providers that try to dump a product on a physician and then slip away with the reward. The truth is, any respected consultant will be with the client from day one, through the installation and training processes, planning the whole way through to ensure adoption is not only smooth, but maximally effective.
A comprehensive plan must include the following to allow a small office to benefit:
Workflow Built For Efficiency First – Installing an EMR system is far from just a plug and play product that can be added in a day. In fact, to properly gain the benefits that make the product one of the best returns on investment in the technology industry requires that the manner in which your staff functions changes markedly in some cases. Assistants, as an example, may require more time to prepare electronic medical records before patient arrivals. Paper will no longer be an issue in most cases, of course, and with that point in hand, some practices find the surprise a tough nut to crack. A knowledgeable consultant will know this.
Training – Despite the ease of use, everyone on staff, including the doctors, must have a clear working knowledge of the application. This is a boon for not only the short-term, as the product is learned faster, but also over the longer term, as training difficulties have the potential to derail the adoption altogether because of negative feelings about the software. Planning for training also means you must decide whether to have a trainer visit, consider remote training or fly your staff to a destination. This may mean shutting down the practice for a time. A quality EMR vendor will know to assist you with this.
Mentorship – Appointing an “EMR Mentor” is a boon to adoption and training process. This Mentor should be trusted to have the greatest knowledge of the software, and have the ability to assist staff members that are having issues, or who are unused to using computers in the practice. Determining which staff member can be a process, but also can save the practice thousands of dollars in support and training costs by eliminating the need to get on the phone with the company whenever a bump in the road comes along.
Adding EMR to your practice’s arsenal of productivity weapons is not as simple as many inexperienced vendors may claim. Understanding this will save you more time than you might expect with your EMR system, and provide you with the best possible experience.