Launching an EHR system is an exciting time for a healthcare organization. When EHRs fulfill their promise, the organization can deliver better patient care while using fewer staff hours and increasing collections. However, getting there requires surviving the go live process. Go live days and nights can be challenging, especially for organizations that don't plan in advance. Organizations that are preparing for their go live can benefit from learning from, and avoiding, these common mistakes:
Go-Live Support and Planning
Strong internal planning and communication is key to a successful go-live process. Before launching the software, it is vital that procedures for support and escalation are clearly established. If a healthcare provider can't work the EHR system, he needs to know how to report the error -- whether through calling into a central call center or help desk, using a fallback paper form, or finding a nearby superuser. Organizations with successful EHR launches sprinkle support personnel and superusers throughout the facility for the go live to ensure that everyone has floor support standing by to assist. A key tip is to set up a command center that is staffed with knowledgeable analysts that have computers in front of them for direct support. Go-Lives where analysts are separated from the command center can result in delays and delays in communication can be costly.
It takes a team to make a go live successful. Continuing to have consultants and analysts available on-site and in the command center helps to ensure that problems get identified and resolved before they significantly affect operations. It also reduces communication breakdowns and eliminates the risk that the on-site IT department will "forget" to use the analysts' expertise.
Installing and Configuring Hardware
It might seem obvious that transitioning to an EHR system requires an organization to have workstations available for its personnel to use while they are interacting with patients. Placing workstations in patient rooms, exam rooms, offices and nursing stations is usually not a problem. However, fitting them into the tight confines of a med room or a crowded central supply area can be challenging. Ensuring that patients in isolation also have conveniently located workstations for the caregivers that work with them is also crucial.
Hand held Barcode Scanners are the lifeblood of many EHR systems, allowing doctors, nurses and technicians to care for patients and record what they are doing even when it's not practical to be at a workstation. Scanners need to be preprogrammed and tested before a go live and, just in case, facility IT staff should be trained on how to solve basic programming issues, just in case. While pens, paper and charts don't need power, handheld scanners do, and strategically locating charging stations is also a key part of a successful EHR transition.
EHRs are only as good as the information that a facility's staff can get out of them. Given that paper plays a major role in healthcare, even in an electronic facility, properly testing and configuring printers is a must, as is adding enough of them so that they are conveniently located. Seemingly simple issues like properly configuring a printer's paper trays so that the right information prints on the right type of paper, card or label can have an out-sized impact both on facility productivity and on the success of go live.
It all comes down to testing. When a system has run through hundreds of sample scenarios from registration through to discharge using different treatments and orders successfully, the facility can have confidence. When every scanner works, and every printout goes to the right device, the launch is more likely to be successful. Finally, having staff members who know where to get support eliminates much of the challenge of go live.