The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) changed the way providers see Medicare patients and get payments. It’s up to practices to implement a MACRA-compliant EHR platform in response. What steps can they take to make implementation smoother?
An excellent place to start is to consider the project manager. Most medical practices are staffed to meet workflow standards. Cutting one person to lead a massive project like purchasing and implementing a new EHR would cause disruption. With this in mind, the better option might be to hire someone to fill that slot.
A couple of items to keep in mind when interviewing candidates:
- Look for someone with practical communication skills. The project manager will need to keep everyone else informed on the progress of the transition including team members and stakeholders.
- Make sure this person has both tech skills and experience. Ask for references from previous jobs and check them diligently.
- Make flexibility a priority. The practice needs a person that is reliable and able to work the hours necessary to complete the project.
Finally, give the candidate a little test. Ask him or her how they solved a past transition problem like system flaws or kinks in the workflow. Once the practice has a project manager, the next step is to create the implementation team.
Start by considering who was on the previous implementation team, and especially who stood out as a leader during that time. Make systemic choices to ensure you cover every department, too. Assign someone from administration, for instance, and someone from coding and billing. Dissect the various roles within the practice and make sure each area has a representative on the team. Discuss the assignment with each person to measure their interest and availability as well.
With a working implementation team assembled, you can begin to research vendors.
Picking the Right EHR Platform
Firstly, the implementation team should break down the current EHR system. What worked? What didn’t? By analyzing the current system, the practice can determine what they need from a new system beyond just MACRA-compliance. Have each team member get feedback from their departments, and consider reaching out to other practices who have made the transition to a new system already for advice, too.
Compile the information to create a list of features the platform must have and features to avoid. From there, have members of the team research various vendors, looking for EHR systems that meet the criteria to develop a list of options.
Assembling EHR Vendors
Shopping vendors is something the group can do together or individually, but there are some smart questions worth asking, such as:
- How does the system capture quality measures?
- Are there templates for the documentation of quality measures?
- What form of interoperability does the vendor offer?
- What type of data analysis does the system use?
- Are product demonstrations available?
Finally, the most critical step is training. Allow each employee practice time before going live to ensure everyone who works on the new system is comfortable with it. Keep communication lines open during this training to get feedback from every department; this is especially important for larger practices with multiple locations.
MACRA-compliant EHR implementation can be stressful. However, practices that effectively research potential platforms, communicate well with everyone involved in the new system and assign the right people to make the transition will succeed.