In order to implement an electronic medical records (EMR) system, you must have ‘buy-in” from your staff. This means you’ll need firm commitments from the influencers at your medical practice, along with cooperation at all organizational levels.
One Bad Apple
Since one single naysayer can drag down everyone else down, it is important to intervene early. A managing partner may have to interject if it turns our that another physician is working to prevent project implementation. It’s also a good idea to tell your patients about the practice’s upcoming move to electronic records; they’ll be more patient when the practice hits the expected little bumps along the road.
The majority of project managers would cite the ‘people factor’ as the primary cause of project failures, particularly those of the scope and magnitude of electronic medical records implementation. Usually the causes are traceable to ineffective planning and training.
A transition over to EMR can be a stressful situation for some people – this is particularly true if they’re having to learn the system while caring for patients in a live work setting. It’s usually a good idea to specify some key personnel as the go-to people, and these should always be available at the different locations and within the various departments.
Audit Your Training Process
One way to determine if your staff is ready for EMR is to conduct training audits. For example, one practice asked the office coordinator to conduct a course which taught employees to use the upcoming EMR system. These training sessions were held each week. Everything seemed to be flowing well. However, when the launch day arrived it became obvious that some employees didn’t have much skill using the new system.
Unfortunately, their training process didn’t include an audit or a way to evaluate effectiveness on the individual employees. Sending employees to EMR ‘class’ is a good idea in general, but this doesn’t guarantee they’ll understand how to use the new EMR system afterward. Tests should be conducted, and grades issued based on performance. Also bear in mind that skills fade after long periods of inactivity.
Ideally there are ample opportunities for staff to develop and practice new skills during the workday. It’s a good idea to offer after-work tutorial classes as well. Remind your staff that successful implementation is a team effort, and you understand how hard everyone is working to reach this aim. Bottom line: trust, but verify, that everyone is prepared to make the big switch to EMR, with an effective training audit process.