What to Know about Switching EHRs

For agencies already using an electronic record (EHR), the thought of starting over may seem excruciating. But to move forward in today’s healthcare environment, your agency must have the right tools. After investing so much into a system that isn’t meeting your needs, the biggest question isn’t why to switch systems, but how to switch, safely and effectively.

At Foothold, we’ve been working with providers for more than 14 years to integrate our EHR, AWARDS, into their daily operations. Many of our clients made the switch from another system and can share their experience. See how they’ve answered these frequently asked questions.

Q: What do we do with the data we already have?

“We decided to simply print off hard copies of only those necessary documents for auditing purposes. This was not difficult, since we were not ‘paperless’ with the previous system and many of the documents already existed in hard copy format.”

“We started clean with AWARDS and kept an archive of our old data for compliance purposes. Starting clean assured we knew exactly what data was entered. If we had wanted to import, however, I feel certain Foothold would have walked us through the process to ensure a clean transition.”

Q: How do we get staff to buy in?

“It’s important to have buy-in at all levels of the agency. In our case, we tried to choose the right people to spearhead the change. Having failed miserably in the past, we learned from our mistakes.”

“Make sure the people who will be affected understand how the changes will affect them and their jobs, and why the change is necessary. Rather than presenting this change as ‘Administration says we will do this,’ we presented it as an opportunity to help people do their work more efficiently, freeing them up to provide more interactions with the clients.”

“The implementation is not an IT function, as much as an operations function. So we decided to have our change committee include people who had years of experience in the field who could easily identify and communicate the benefits of the program. We then asked for committee volunteers who would be using the system every day. This has been successful, since the committee members have enthusiasm for AWARDS.”

Q: How do we handle training the staff?

“Foothold training was done in such an effective, professional manner that transitioning to the new system was fairly painless for the clinical staff.”

“Our previous vendor had no real training ability so we were often flying blind when trying to learn the system. Foothold showed us how it should have been done from the beginning…which has helped avoid many of the challenges we encountered with the previous product.”

Q: When will we start seeing results?

“We are still in the process of implementing the system; however, we have seen some benefits with the limited use we have. The system gives reminders when certain things are due, which we see as a huge benefit with the limited use we have. No more missed dates for assessments, meetings, etc. Since our programs are spread across the county, the system also gives our supervisors the ability to easily keep track of the work being done by their direct reports. This has been most helpful, as you can check not only timeliness, but also quality of work from remote areas. This saves us money in the supervisor’s time and in mileage reimbursement that would be incurred if the supervisor had to go to each site to check on these items.”

“After we made the change, we realized we had been fighting with an ineffective system and vendor for years. The technical support, Help Desk, availability of a real person to help us with the transition, were services we had not been accustomed to receiving.” -Stacey W. Denaux, CEO, Crisis Ministries

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