EHR implementation can seem like a daunting task. Bringing in a new agency-wide technology tool can be a complicated project that requires a fresh look at the way your agency works. How can your agency implement an EHR without taking time away from the people you support? Through decades of experience, Foothold Technology has developed a robust plan to make EHR implementation as smooth as possible for the agencies we work with. Over the next few sections, we’ll share our proven implementation strategy and help demystify the implementation process. We’ll also highlight how a successful EHR implementation can help transform the way your agency works.
You’ll need the right team of people within your agency to carry your EHR implementation forward. This team will become your internal EHR experts and will lead ongoing tasks like creating new forms, assigning permissions for new staff members, or changing access to client records for staff entering new roles at your agency. Based on our vast experience with supporting EHR implementations across the country, we have a few recommendations on how to strategically share knowledge across your agency and create your own database management team. One of the first ways you can streamline your entire implementation process is by giving your team members specific roles.
Each agency partners with a dedicated Implementation Consultant with extensive experience in human services. Your Implementation Consultant will be your guide through your entire implementation process. Every week, you will review a new piece of your workflow and the corresponding EHR module. They will help configure the software to ensure that your EHR can capture and report on the data that your agency needs. After each meeting, your team will fill out a worksheet with your configuration preferences, and your Implementation Consultant will adjust the software accordingly.
Since your agency probably runs a variety of programs, your Implementation Consultant will ask which programs you would like to implement in your EHR. To simplify this process, they will help you group your programs according to similarities in service planning, funding, and staffing.
After the initial configuration, your team will check to make sure the software supports your typical data collection process. For each program that you implement, your team will walk through the entire lifecycle of admitting your clients, planning and documenting their services, completing assessments, and discharging clients. The goal of this exercise is to ensure the database is ready for your staff to train on and use in their daily work. This initial configuration is also a great time to take a look at your agency’s current workflows and make sure that they are still fully optimized for your staff and your clients.
Beyond making sure that your EHR collects the data that you need, your Implementation Consultant will match your software to your agency’s unique daily operations. Structuring modules and forms so that staff can work efficiently through their daily workflows is crucial to helping your agency operate more efficiently, from your front-line clinicians to your executive directors. Here are a few questions that your Implementation Consultant will consider along with your team:
At this point, your agency will be ready to enter real client data into your fully-configured EHR. Your agency will need to make key decisions in terms of entering your existing client data:
Manual entry versus upload: While AWARDS EHR has the ability to batch-upload thousands of records at a time, this may not be the best solution depending on the current state of your data. If your agency is using paper documentation or if your data quality isn’t up to snuff, manually entering client records provides you a fresh slate that could save you time and resources in the future.
Implementation team and/or clinicians: Some smaller agencies keep the work within the implementation team or clear some time on their administrative staff’s schedules to complete this step. For other agencies, clinicians may enter their own records by setting aside a certain amount of time per week. Either way, we recommend setting clear objectives and timelines for your entire agency to keep this project on track.
Demographic data only, or demographic data and service plans: It’s often best to bring both your demographic records and service plans into your new EHR before you go live. However, since service plans need to be manually entered, agencies with tight work schedules may choose to enter service plans on a rolling basis as their due dates come up.
Your Implementation Consultant will work with Foothold’s training team to create a custom training agenda for your agency, so you can maximize your learning on the modules that you will use the most. Foothold practices the Train-The-Trainer model, where we train key staff members at your agency who can then train and support other users. This model empowers your staff to easily onboard new hires on an ongoing basis. During the full staff training, it’s helpful to have a few members of your implementation team present in order to answer questions from staff members who were not part of the initial configuration process. After training, your Implementation Consultant will help you develop an ongoing internal training plan.
By the time you complete training, your implementation team will have configured your new EHR, learned how to use and manage it, and filled the database with the data you need to begin using your EHR. During any transition, it’s important to have a smooth go-live day to help maintain staff morale through a time of change. Here are a few tips to make your go-live day a huge success:
If you’ve purchased any new hardware for your EHR, such as tablets or touch-screen laptops, you should test the devices at the location where they’ll be used. An easy way to perform a full hardware test is to walk through a complete chart workflow on a test client.
You should double check that the correct user logins and permissions are in place. One week before your official go live date, we recommend that you confirm all users have successfully logged in to the EHR at least once and have filled out their own security questions. We also suggest that system administrators test permission settings for all groups, to ensure that everyone has access to the correct portions of your software. This is important for both client confidentiality and clinicians’ ease of use.
Even the most prepared agencies may run into a few unanticipated snags on day one. We recommend that agencies clear their implementation team’s calendars on go live day in order to resolve any unexpected concerns from your staff. Of course, Foothold’s team will also be ready to help you resolve any issues that come up.
You will continue to meet with your Implementation Consultant after your go live day, allowing you to request changes, refresh your training, and continue to get support as you adjust to your new EHR. Your Implementation Consultant will ensure a smooth transition to your Senior Customer Success Manager, who is the Foothold staff member that will stay with you for the lifetime of your contract with our company. Implementing an EHR can be a complex project. But with the right team and a world of experience from your software vendor, any agency can make a seamless transition to a new EHR.
The time it takes to fully implement an EHR depends largely on the complexity of your organization and your team’s project plan. With the right team members and processes in place, we’ve seen that most EHR implementations take around 4 to 6 months. However, some agencies choose to implement their EHR and then gradually transition all of their programs onto the software over time. This approach may be easier to manage from an organizational change perspective, but will make the process longer.
In working with our customers, we find that change resistance is one of the biggest challenges that agencies face during implementation. With any new tool and change in process, there can be anxiety about learning how to use the new EHR and transitioning to different workflows. We’ve seen that our customers have found the most success in change management by following a few key principles:
Our team has decades of experience in helping agencies of all kinds transition to a new EHR.
Input your search keywords and press Enter.