Congratulations on your purchase of that shiny new electronic health record for your office. You've made your decision and your expectations are high. However, your work is just beginning.
The difference between an efficient, harmonious, computerized office and computerized chaos is all about implementation. You owe it to yourself to sit back for a few minutes and take some time to think about how you, your staff, and your office will function with this new system. It is useful to think that your office will not just be computerized, but you will be implementing a complete health information technology system. If you think in terms of the new system and how everything works within the system, success is much easier. Good luck, everything is about to change!
Over the next few months, continue to keep in mind and work toward the primary goal: an office with no paper charts.
No paper charts the prime directive, and all good things flow from this accomplishment. Certainly there are other accomplishments such as efficient workflow, elimination of wasted steps, and improved office communication– but none of this can happen if paper charts are not eliminated. We continue to live in a paper-based world and many strategies will be needed to deal with the great amount of paper coming into and flowing from your office.
We have found that many characteristics that enable successful implementation of information technology projects (or any office projects, for that matter) are human rather than technological factors.
Medical offices that have had successful EHR implementations have the following characteristics:
Family physicians who have had successful electronic health record implementations have the following characteristics:
Will you be using workstations in the examination rooms or will you be using wireless laptops or tablets that you carry around?
If you'll be using workstations, pay strict attention to workstation set up in the room so that you can interact with the computer and interact with the patient in a reasonable way. The computers in the room can be very small these days using small form factor computers. Flat screens varying from 15 to 19 inches plus are now standard. One good idea that seems to work well for many offices is putting the flat screens on a swivel arm so that they can be readjusted easily.
Accommodations need to be made in the room for ethernet connectors, outlets, etc. Do not be too concerned about patients and children messing with the computers. This has been found by many to be a minimal problem. If you are using a tablet or laptop computer you need to be concerned about your wireless set up and make sure this works appropriately.
Battery life is also a concern and many have docking stations within the room to provide a stable platform for entering data. Other offices use mobile carts to carry the tablets or laptops from room to room. Your ancillary staff will also need mobile computers. This may seem obvious, but test your hardware extensively and make sure it works reliably and quickly before going live. Also test your electronic health record software extensively and make sure it works well with the hardware that you have selected.
If at all possible, you will want to have your practice management and billing system connected to your electronic health record. Many electronic health records are installed as a complete solution containing both practice management and electronic medical record. If this is not the case, an interface could possibly be built between the two pieces of software.
Establish digital connections with the laboratories you deal with, if possible. These may also require an interface. Interfaces can be expensive, but the flow of information in your office and the digital format of data that come from it (especially laboratory) makes it very worthwhile. Having digital connections from end to end and information flowing into your office in a digital format at the time that you start to implement your record makes things much easier.
You may be on the verge of having a paperless office, but most of the world is still using paper. Therefore, you must think extensively about how you will deal with the paper that presently comes into your office and the paper that you produce that goes out of your office.
There are multiple ways to deal with this, some more efficient than others.
Share this page
Alert: Message field is required.
You must sign in before you can share a page on AAFP connection.
EHR Product Select & Implement
Before You Implement an EHR