Does the thought of a home health or hospice EHR implementation sound daunting? If you said yes, you’re not alone.

Sometimes, home health and hospice agencies identify imperfections in their systems and processes that lead them to explore the idea of making an EHR software change. Sometimes agencies are stuck in a sub-optimized infrastructure, not because of inadequate resources, but because of their resistance to undertake the perceived painstaking effort of making a system change. People are ready to change when things become overwhelmingly problematic – i.e. staff turnover, lost revenue, inefficiency that affects patient care. Certainly making a change from one way of doing things to another is a big task, but there are some key steps agencies can take to minimize the challenges and breeze through the process to come out on top, optimized, and better prepared to weather the storms ahead.

Here are five important tips to consider when making a change to your EHR software.

1. Establish a cross-functional review team and include nurses. If clinical isn’t happy, no one is happy!

This seems obvious, right? Nevertheless, many agency leaders have learned this the hard way whether or not they themselves made this error, or their predecessor did, and they are left to deal with the fall out. Even though staff come and go, it is important to recognize the agency-wide impact of new systems and processes. Giving key clinicians, billers, QA staff, and administrative staff the opportunity to see software demonstrations allows them to ask questions regarding their functional area that may reinforce your decision to select a certain software vendor. It also enables buy-in. Everyone shares the risk of making the decision and feels some responsibility for the success of the new solution.

2. Evaluate what is broken and identify key decision-making criteria. Know how you will base your decision.

Take time to outline the key problems you are trying to solve, but also keep in mind the key functionality needed to ensure you are not overlooking the most basic things while focusing on the pain points. It is important to identify your key decision-making criteria. The most common are cost, ease-of-use, and compliance. In order for software vendors to be competitive, we must win on these things and we know that already. So consider HEALTHCAREfirst checked off the list. We’ve got you covered!

Challenge your team to look deeper into your daily operations. Where are your biggest inefficiencies? Are they in the time it takes to document in the home? Is it the time you spend doing QA of clinical documentation and coding? Is it billing? Are there numerous manual processes or does duplication of data entry slow you down? Do you currently track and measure these things and do you know how you compare to other agencies? Can you quantify what the time savings in any of these areas would mean for your organization? By taking time to really outline your problems, you will be able to have more productive conversations with vendors about how you will be able to optimize operations using their EHR system.

Consider prioritizing your list of must-haves. Buying software can be like buying a home. For example, maybe an updated kitchen and open floor plan are the most important things on your list. You could sacrifice not having a front porch with a swing as long as those other things were there. There is no such thing as perfect. Just as families buying a home have different needs, agencies also have different needs and wants. The clearer you are going into this process, the better decision you will make.

3. Embrace the change in processes. Optimization doesn’t happen without change. This is why you are doing it after all!

Change is hard and managing it is even harder. We are all creatures of habit and even though we may be knowingly sub-optimized, it can be hard to give up our inefficient ways of doing things because we know them so well. It can create anxiety to face uncertainty, learn a new way, and trust that it will work and we will still be successful. It is important to take time to talk about the change with staff. Discuss with them the reasons for and benefits of making the change. Ask them to contribute their perspective on how things can be better. Ask them for their commitment in helping to lead the change with a positive, can-do attitude. Consider creating an internal campaign around the transition process and giving it a fun name. Rally a spirit of teamwork and use the transition process as a way to bring staff closer together as they learn from each other along the way. Reinforce what is not changing to encourage stability – the mission behind what you do and how this change will enable you to do that even better.

4. Take time to carefully plan and execute the EHR implementation. A rushed implementation to satisfy today’s urgent needs will only exacerbate tomorrow’s operations.

Sometimes it can be tempting to want to rush to the finish line. Maybe there is even a looming contract expiration driving your agency to go live by an aggressive date in order to move off of one software and on to the other. Take care not to put your agency in this position of being rushed. If it is not implemented correctly with careful attention, it will only lead to more frustration. Like any project, planning and thorough training is the key to success. Dedicate the proper amount of time in advance of contract deadlines to do proper due diligence when evaluating vendors. Ask vendors what their implementation plan looks like and even ask for a deadline on the contract signature date in order to plan the appropriate amount of time for the implementation. When talking to references, ask about their implementation. Was it well organized and did they have good support from a project manager or were they left to figure out things for themselves? Taking the time to carefully plan and invest in through training for staff will ensure successful launch and adoption of your EHR software.

5. Choose a trusted vendor partner who has experience managing software transition projects. Know the game plan post-sale.

Make sure you will be well supported by your vendor during the implementation phase and well beyond. It is important to ask about their experience with implementations like yours and even ask for a training agenda or outline of what their process looks like. Many vendors offer Web-based training to get you going quickly, but does web-based training mean you are left to figure out everything on your own? Most people learn best through hands on application in a classroom type setting. By having a trainer come onsite to your agency’s location, you will be able to leverage the in person attention from the trainer and discuss processes and protocols specific to your organization.

HEALTHCAREfirst knows through experience with hundreds of agencies that a thorough implementation is the ticket to agency success. EHR software touches every part of your business. That’s why we have designed a well-organized, structured approach to implementation success.

HEALTHCAREfirst is dedicated to customer success!

We know that your EHR software is your central nervous system. It has agency-wide impact and is critical to every department. That’s why we have designed a well-structured plan for getting clients started on the right foot.

HEALTHCAREfirst’s 5-Phase Approach to EHR Implementation Success

When you come on board as a new customer, we immediately assign a cross-functional team that stays with you throughout our partnership. This includes a trainer, project manager, support team, and client success manager. Everyone works together with you to ensure your satisfaction and success from implementation and beyond.

This is an essential step that enables us to better understand your agency’s unique processes. During this phase, you will also learn more about us and what you can expect to accomplish during implementation. This allows us to tailor the EHR implementation process to your agency. At the conclusion of the discovery phase, we will have a mutually agreed upon timeline with milestones for success.

In this phase, we will build your software with components of your active data. This will help jumpstart your transition with a customized database.

In the third phase of your EHR implementation, we start getting you familiar with how to use your software. We provide a dynamic learning experience with guided training resources. In this phase, we also ensure your database is ready and users are setup properly.

Training & Go Live
This phase is done at your agency, led by your assigned HEALTHCAREfirst trainer. Using what we learn about your agency in the discovery phase, we develop a custom agenda, giving your staff hands-on experience with the software. We discuss processes and workflow, provide clinical training, and work hand in hand with your agency to ensure your team has the knowledge they need for successful adoption.

Follow Up
As soon as your on-site training and go live conclude, you move into the follow up phase, where your HEALTHCAREfirst EHR implementation team is still with you. Your trainer continues to guide you daily for a full week, answering any questions, and providing continued guidance. But we don’t stop there! Your implementation team continues weekly calls to ensure everything is running smoothly.

Once all phases of your EHR implementation are complete, your client success manager and support team continue to engage your agency with proactive outreach.

HEALTHCAREfirst is committed to your success. We monitor the performance of our success services team on a daily basis, tracking things like first call resolution, resolution time, and customer satisfaction. HEALTHCAREfirst’s customer support is consistently rated as ‘excellent.’ We’re proud of that!

Want to learn more about our 5-phase approach to succesful EHR implementation? Click here to view a short video or view our implementation outline to learn more.

Ready to join the thousands of happy customers? Click here to schedule a software demo.