EHR (Electronic Health Record) Best Practices 2019

February 18, 2019

Electronic health records, also known as EHRs are increasing in use across various health care entities. Evidence indicates that EHRs have many benefits including improving the quality, care, efficiency, and safety in the care of patients in entities that have had successful implementation. Implementing EHRs, however, is not an easy task. It is a multi-layered process that includes ongoing process evaluation and quality improvement to ensure a successful adoption. The following are best practices to take into consideration for EHRs.

1. Garner Appropriate Buy-In From Proposed Users
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, EHR must absolutely have buy-in from clinicians. This is inclusive of physicians and nurses. If you have at least one clinician who can champion for the implementation of EHR, who can recruit others, you can be confident moving forward in terms of staff acceptance and EHR sustainability.

2. Training and Support
The ideal approach to adopting EHR tends to be a staged approach, allowing for clinicians and staff to get used to the new processes. Evidence has also indicated that introducing EHR all once has also been successful, and in some circumstances has proven to be more successful. Transitioning staff to use electronic records instead of paper has the potential to be a long process, however, sufficient training can make a difference. Two of the best methods are to conduct training sessions and to utilize experts who are already well-trained, who can support other clinicians as they learn the system. During all phases of the EHR adoption, staff should be continuously trained.

3. Identify the Right Expertise for System Design and Implementation
Because the design and implementation of EHR projects are multi-layered, it is important to identify the right expertise. One of the best ways to address this is to identify external neutral consultation. There are various types of organizations that could do this including universities and local non-profits. Once EHR has been fully adopted, having a team of in-house subject matter experts will contribute to sustainability.

4. Understand Workflow
EHR implementation is part technology, but is mostly about the workplace culture and its workflow. By devoting time to analysis of the workflow, integration will be easier. Analysis and upfront redesign may prevent an overhaul of design in later years. Although the costs are fewer upfront, the process of redesigning an implemented EHR system could have long term economic impacts.

EHRs have many benefits including measurable returns on investment. Implementation, adoption, and sustainability are part of a multi-layered process, however, the return on investment includes improved diagnostics, improved patient safety, and better patient outcomes.

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