Industry experts share most effective strategies for EHR replacement

Effective strategies for EHR replacement

As the health care industry continues to rapidly evolve, there has been a sharp increase in electronic health record replacement. As providers work toward adhering to updated meaningful use requirements and patient expectations change, the latest health IT plays a large role in providers' ability to keep up with the evolving industry. 

Although the number of health care organizations replacing their EHRs with systems that feature new tools – such as those designed to make the ICD-10 transition easier – has increased significantly over the years – rising from 20 to 60 percent in the past five years, according to an EHR Software BuyerView study – this number is predicted to rise even higher. As a result, providers should familiarize themselves with a couple of best practices for EHR replacement and adoption. 

Implement a slower EHR replacement process
When investing in a new EHR system, providers must take into consideration the needs of the practice. However, the transition will go more smoothly if, instead of quickly coming up with a solution that health IT leaders think will solve all of their practice's problems, they are more patient and develop a clear list of all the practice's specific needs. Identifying each issue will give the IT team a chance to explore their options for fixing these problems and understand which direction they should go in with their new system.

Mark Hess of Stoltenberg Consulting Group, a company which guides practices through EHR replacements, told EHR Intelligence that when practices take their time with the replacement process, the chances of successful results drastically increase. 

"Optimally, if we can get them down this road, we see the biases become diluted, they become more objective, and many times they'll come up with a very different decision than they would've had they gone the 90-day or quick-turn process," Hess explained. "By having corporate site visits, by having several rounds of demos, they come to a different way of thinking about how to make a decision. It's more global and enterprise-wide, more strategic in nature, less biased and really what's best for the organization."

Consider meaningful use updates
Meaningful use standards are frequently updated. Especially with the current impending modifications to the stage 3 standards, it is particularly important to keep this in mind when adopting a new EHR system. 

Experts suggest that health IT teams take into account provider needs, as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently announced that the meaningful use programs will be broken down and completely restructured to better meet provider needs as they strive to enhance patient care. As IT developers begin to have more freedom when creating their EHRs  – they no longer will have to prioritize government regulations, as meaningful use will no longer be centered on meeting these rules – the design of EHRs may also change in the future. 

Cultivate provider trust in the new system
Physicians should fully understand and believe in the benefits of their new EHRs or implementation will likely fail. Practice morale can make or break the success of EHR adoption, but only practice leaders can really change the culture, according to the 2015 KLAS publication "Implementation Potholes 2015: How to Smooth Out the Ride."

Health IT leaders can also encourage physician buy-in and facilitate a positive work environment by stressing the importance of patient safety advancements that EHR systems will bring. Emphasizing the benefits the EHR will have down the road will also help to reduce the impact the short-term implementation difficulties have on morale. 

Providing physicians with plenty of resources to assist them in the transition to a new system will also promote a positive experience.