When you consider a new EMR, it’s natural to focus on the software and the technology. However, it’s important to remember the people who will be using the system. Your practice might as well be throwing money down a hole if the staff members don’t adopt the new system and revert to their old methods of doing things. Here are three HR pitfalls practice owners must avoid when choosing and implementing their EMR, and suggestions on how to avoid them.
When choosing an EMR, every practice thinks about how the physicians will interact with the new system, but the physicians aren’t the only players. The doctors are only part of the equation. Most practices have many employees who will use the EMR extensively, from the nurses and physicians’ aids who prepare the charts and interact with patients, to the front desk staff members who set the appointments. If their workflow is impacted, it can be just as devastating to your practices productivity.
Solicit feedback from all the users at your practice. Find out what they want to see in an EMR, and take their concerns to heart before you make your decision.
Most EMR buyers recognize it’s a bad idea to throw their employees into the deep end of the new EMR pool without teaching them how to swim first. If your EMR vendor recommends a certain number of hours for training, take it as a starting point but recognize your employees must have a minimum level of computer competency in order to gain from the training.
Survey your employees to find out how comfortable they are with computers and new technology. If some employees lack basic computer skills, consider bringing in a tutor for some special training sessions. Many colleges offer remedial computer courses that help students gain essential computer skills. If your practice has a mix of skilled and unskilled employees, consider setting up a mentoring system.
No matter which option you choose, it’s important to reassure employees who need help that their jobs are not in danger.
No matter how well the new system fits into your existing workflow or how much training you have, there will be an adjustment period of lower productivity while employees get used to the new system.
Consider bringing in temporary help to handle tasks that do not require specialized skills. There’s no reason for your salaried staff to give up their evenings and weekends to feed years’ worth of paper records into a document scanner when you can hire temporary workers or college students to do it for much less.
If you have part-time staff, offer extra hours to ensure you have enough coverage. If your practice has more than one location, consider staggering your EMR implementation and bringing in staff from the other location. Once things have gotten back to normal and you launch the system at the other location, you can do the same for the second location.
If your EMR meets the needs of all of your users, and those users are properly trained and prepared, your practice can minimize the impact of the adjustment period and maximize user satisfaction and productivity.
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