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How to make your EHR change as painless as possible

By Shannon Geis
October 6, 2016
Body of Knowledge Domain(s): Operations Management

When considering an EHR change, where do you start? With so many different factors to think about, it can be a daunting process. But the key is to take a long-term view, according to Derek Kosiorek, CPEHR, CPHIT, principal, MGMA Health Care Consulting Group, Englewood, Colo.

“I’ve compared this process to a marriage. The relationship should be based on trust and you don’t go into it expecting a divorce,” Kosiorek said in MGMA’s recent webinar, “Changing EHR Systems: A Different Kind of Pain Management.”  

Kosiorek has been advising healthcare organizations for more than 15 years with an emphasis on information technology and EHR choices. He recommends picking a system that will have longevity, but that decision begins with asking why are you changing systems and what you want to achieve. “Picture a successful EHR implantation, and then backtrack from there,” he says.

Kosiorek says that before you start looking at new systems, consider whether your practice is using the current EHR and its capabilities properly. “If you aren’t using your current EHR to capacity, a new EHR isn’t going to fix your problem,” he says. 

Other reasons why you might consider a new EHR, according to Kosiorek, include: 

  • Increasing quality of care
  • Providing better customer service
  • Increasing revenue
  • Increasing productivity
  • Lowering costs
  • Partnering with a stronger vendor
  • Improving regulatory compliance

If you decide that changing your EHR is the best course of action for your process, Kosiorek recommends forming a selection team with representation from all areas of your practice that regularly interact with the EHR, including physicians and members of your IT team, if in-house.

As you go through the request for proposal and selection process, Kosiorek recommends creating an objective scoring system to evaluate your options. By using objective criteria, “it will be easier to defend your decision down the line,” explains Kosiorek.

Once you select a new EHR vendor, spend time reviewing the contract. “Don’t let the formality of the contract scare you off,” he says. “Contracts are malleable.”

And contracts have some known pitfalls. If your data is not being housed on your own servers, make sure the contract stipulates how you can get that data back, Kosiorek recommends. “I’ve never seen that outlined in a vendor’s standard contract,” he says. “You have to build it in.”

Check out the “Changing EHR Systems: A Different Kind of Pain Management” webinar, available on demand, to learn more about the steps Kosiorek recommends for EHR system changes.

Shannon Geis, Staff writer/editor, MGMA

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