An EHR system is a lifetime investment. It requires planning, budget, resources, and tools for long-term success. At Optimum Healthcare IT, we believe that the EHR Implementation Lifecycle consists of seven stages: Strategic Planning, Design, Build & Test, Interoperability, Training & Activation, Post Go-Live, and Managed Services support. Do you know how to navigate this lifecycle? Let's dive deeper into the complexities of each stage in the EHR implementation lifecycle.
1. Strategic Planning: This stage involves defining the organization's goals, objectives, and requirements for the EHR system. It includes assessing the current state of the organization's processes, infrastructure, and workflows. The challenges in this stage revolve around aligning the EHR implementation strategy with the organization's overall vision, securing executive buy-in, and setting realistic expectations.
2. Design: During this stage, the EHR system's design is tailored to meet the organization's specific needs and workflows. Customization, configuration, and integration with existing systems are important considerations. Complexities arise when balancing the need for customization with the desire to adhere to industry standards and best practices. Involving end-users and stakeholders in the design process is crucial to ensure usability and acceptance.
3. Build & Test: The EHR system is constructed based on the design specifications, including workflows, templates, data structures, and interfaces. Building and configuring the system can be intricate, as it requires expertise in software development, database management, and integration. Rigorous testing is essential to identify and resolve any issues before implementation. This stage demands skilled resources, effective communication, and coordination among the implementation team.
4. Interoperability: Achieving interoperability, the ability to exchange data seamlessly between different systems and healthcare providers, is a critical challenge in EHR implementation. This involves integrating the EHR system with other healthcare systems, such as laboratory systems, imaging systems, and external health information exchanges. The complexity lies in reconciling varying data formats, standards, and security protocols to ensure accurate and secure data exchange.
5. Training & Activation: Preparing end-users to effectively utilize the EHR system is crucial for a successful implementation. Training programs need to be comprehensive, tailored to different user roles, and include ongoing support. Organizations must overcome the challenge of training a large and diverse workforce, including physicians, nurses, administrators, and support staff, within limited timeframes while minimizing disruption to patient care.
6. Post Go-Live: After the EHR system is activated, ongoing maintenance, support, and optimization are required. Organizations need to continuously monitor system performance, address user feedback, and adapt to changing regulatory requirements. Optimization efforts aim to improve workflows, enhance user experience, and maximize the system's benefits. Engaging with end-users and maintaining a strong partnership with the EHR vendor are critical in this stage.
7. Managed Services Support: Managed Services: Once the EHR system is implemented and activated, organizations can opt for Managed Services to ensure the long-term success and optimal performance of their EHR. Managed Services involve outsourcing specific IT functions and responsibilities to a third-party service provider. These services can include system monitoring, software updates, security management, user support, and system performance optimization. Governed by SLAs and KPIs, Managed Services is an effective way to increase ROI on EHR spend.
It’s important to note that your EHR journey is a lifecycle, meaning that the above steps repeat themselves as you mature your systems and increase the complexity of your IT landscape. For example, a future merger or acquisition would require a walkthrough of the above journey to ensure the validity of the acquiring entity's new technological footprint. (Learn more about Optimum’s unique M&A EHR offering.)
Moreover, many organizations attempt to take on multiple initiatives to achieve their EHR goals. Those goals will require both focused technical acumen and the holistic perspective of your larger journey to successfully implement.
Whether you are a large multi-facility IDN, an Academic Medical Center, a single hospital, or a physician network, Optimum Healthcare IT has the people, the expertise, and the experience to ensure that your EHR is implemented correctly and smoothly. For additional information, read our white paper on Ensuring a Successful Implementation and Go-Live.