A Checklist for EMR Implementation

8 Oct 2014 by Whitney Cann

A doctor interacting with a virtual keyboard on a wall

No one ever said that installing and learning to use electronic medical record (EMR) software was going to be easy. 

What about your practice? Are you in the middle of making the big switch to electronic health records (EHR)? If so, to get the most from your system, it’s essential to choose the right one, which means you need a structurized purchasing approach. 

The exact amount of time that it will take to choose and complete the implementation stages is largely influenced by the size of your practice as well as the gumption of your EMR leadership team. 

As for now, let’s take a look at a checklist for establishing a plan for EMR implementation . And keep in mind that no matter the system you choose, you must make sure that it “allows for customization so that you can tailor it to your practice.”

Define Your Objectives

What is it that you want your EMR system to do? Your practice’s overall strategy should align with objective(s) of your system, and it’s these very strategies and goals that will define the type of EMR system that’s most suitable for your practice. For the most part, your EMR system should help meet the following objectives:

  • Patient medication management
  • Capture codes and keep them current
  • Monitor patient progress/needs
  • Provide patients with online library of information related to their health concerns/illnesses
  • Enhance workflow processes (e.g., patient scheduling, answering phone calls, etc.)
  • Evaluate Your Assets

It doesn’t matter if you’re upgrading a current EMR system or looking to implement a new one, you need to “understand your current systems and assets before making adjustments.” Your assets will determine the size and number of servers that you’ll need, and they will also influence the types of applications that your practice will best benefit from. 

When you have a big picture, you can then facilitate a streamlined EMR implementation process. 

Security is Absolutely Necessary

When it comes to patient data, confidentiality is a must, and this also applies to any financial operations that take place in your practice. Because of this, top-notch security is absolutely necessary. You’ll need to invest in an EMR system that boasts security features to the max, including:

  • Data encryption
  • Security audits
  • Dedicated connections
  • Security monitoring
  • Secure applications
  • Choosing a Vendor

Choosing an EMR system vendor tends to be the most complex part of EMR implementation. There are literally hundreds of vendors for you to choose from, and each one will be bombarding you with reasons to choose them. 

As you start down the path of choosing a vendor, you must decide if you want onsite or offsite servers. Onsite means you will be hosting both the hardware and software yourself. Offsite, however, is hosted by an application service provider (ASP), and such systems tend to be far less expensive to use, making them perfect for small practices. The only major downside to using an ASP is that you won’t have full control of your data. It will be in the hands of your ASP. 

The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a vendor is that you need to compare apples to apples. And no matter the comparisons and choices that you make, remember your selection process needs to be structurized. 

User Training and Going Live

Before your EMR system is to go live, all staff members need to be trained accordingly. Staff members who will be using the system rarely will not require as extensive training as those who will be using it on a daily basis. Because of this, your EMR leadership team needs to define the types of training that each staff member needs. Once training has been completed, all hardware and software are in place, and all preexisting data has been uploaded, the system will then be ready to go live.