Implementation is the number one factor that affects EHR end user satisfaction—and, in turn, staff retention. More specifically, there are three components of implementation that healthcare organizations and their EHR vendors must offer to clinicians: clear expectations, involvement, and extended support. Let’s dive into some details about each of these.
EHR users need clear expectations around governance and timing. Mentioning “EHR switch” with little to no context can cause angst in their minds, immediately triggering valid questions and concerns. “Am I going to be involved in this process? That could reduce my time spent with patients. When is this happening? Our entire team needs to be comfortable from day one.”
Users involved in the implementation are unlikely to be full-time participants, as it could detract from their day-to-day responsibilities. A governance model should lay out clear expectations about their roles and time commitment to ease their concerns and offer guidance. As far as timing, an implementation timeline should always consider the health system calendar and peak periods to ensure clinical staff are free to focus on patient care.
Keeping users involved across all levels will foster greater commitment to the final integration and adoption of the EHR, as most will come into contact with the technology feeling informed and involved. They will also feel like their voice has been heard and that they’ve had the opportunity to represent their peers and their teams—who will also feel their input is valued.
Clinicians who will have the most contact with the system are the ones making the majority of the decisions about it and receiving the most classroom and online training around it. Oftentimes, these individuals can help translate administrative and clinical processes to operations and technical experts on the project team who can personalize the EHR to fit each user’s or group’s personal preferences.
Even after an EHR is partly or fully up and running via a phased approach or a big bang approach, it’s imperative to offer a sufficient level of ongoing support. This could mean supporting technologies such as a virtual scribe and almost always means a help desk for real-time support. It’s prudent to plan for a gradual ramp-down in support instead of a precipitous drop-off after go-live. This way, users aren’t left without the resources they need to overcome obstacles and find efficiencies.
The cost of a longer support model, which often consists of a blend of internal talent and third-party resources, can be rationalized by the reduction in time spent in the EHR—and increased time spent with patients—from an organization’s clinicians. Many EHR vendors even recommend having a mandatory proficiency test for users, to ensure they are proficient with the system right from the start.
An EHR implementation can be a multi-million dollar technology project. If your clinicians aren’t satisfied with it, you may also face hundreds of thousands in related turnover costs, along with compromised patient care. Ensure their satisfaction by offering them clear expectations, involvement, and extended support. These three things are proven to result in more seamless processes and more obvious benefits.
As important as user satisfaction is, there’s so much more to a successful implementation. Find out by reading our guide: “EHR Implementation: Critical Success Factors.”