Tuesday, October 16, 2007

An EHR Implementation Checklist

When implementing an electronic health records (electronic medical records) system, you will need to perform the following tasks. Adapted from "EHR Implementation in Ambulatory Care," a 2007 white paper from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, this list is intended to give practices a better idea of how to allocate staff and whether you'll need to hire a project manager when implementing an electronic medical records (EMR) software system.

1. Develop an implementation plan. Establish the plan, which might include having the most computer-savvy physicians "go live" until the EHR's idiosyncrasies are identified and resolved, and then adding the remaining physicians.

2. Develop a scanning and abstraction policy. Convert paper records to electronic format. This might include having physicians review charts and select files important to patient care for scanning into the EMR.

3. Analyze workflow. With input from the practice's whole staff and help from the vendor, map how the practice's work will flow using electronic records. Use the study to train the entire practice.

4. Facilitate third-party interfaces. Set up the EMR system to communicate with several devices and entities, including: labs, hospitals and pharmacies; picture archiving and communication systems; diagnostic devices; and practice management systems. Consider paving the way for e-prescribing, patient e-mail and patient portal access.

5. Develop templates. Get input from all physicians on the template for physician note entry. Typically, these "electronic charts" are modified vendor templates or are designed by the practice.

6. Conduct training. Develop training material for all existing and future staff. In a sample workflow system from HIMSS, medical assistants enter simple patient history and vitals directly into the electronic medical records software, and physicians enter data from a patient worksheet into exam-room EMR terminals.

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