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10 Mistakes I/DD Providers Should Avoid When Implementing a new EHR.

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Medicaid managed care for the I/DD population is sweeping across the country, along with other funding changes from grants and fee-for-service, to Medicaid waivers and value-based payments. These new oversight and funding models are putting pressure on I/DD providers, forcing executives to think outside the box in terms of financing, managing performance, and technology. Oftentimes, many providers may be focused more on the features of the software than how they are going to implement it into their workflow. The result is while the software works, it might not be used or used to its fullest because the implementation was lacking.

A lot of what goes into effectively using new technology happens before you make your purchase. So be sure you don’t make these mistakes when selecting and implementing your EHR for your I/DD organization.

    No Buy-In

    You need the buy-in of clinicians and staff in your organization to be successful at choosing and implementing new EHR software. One of the most common mistakes that organizations make is letting one person choose the software without buy-in from everyone else. The result is often resistance to the final choice and providers or staff who fight making the change. We recommend you gather feedback and requirements from you staff through surveys and focus groups before looking for partners and communicate progress to your staff at key milestones in the project. This will help keep staff involved and informed but allow the decision makers to determine best product fit and scope of implementation at a much quicker pace.

    Undefined Expectations

    Before you select a partner, you have to set clear expectations around what you want in an EHR, what your agency needs, and what resources are available. Because an EHR will sync your entire organization around the client story, this will need to be tailored to each department. This requires input from everyone so that it will work for the whole business and not just the clinicians or agency director.

    Not Assessing Workflows

    It’s important to realize implementing a new EHR may mean you need to change intake, assessment, billing or documentation workflows – just to name a few. It’s important to evaluate your current workflows across the entire client lifecycle before you make a change. The fact is that the workflow will change and those changes will vary depending on how you do things now. To make the most of the EHR, you have to be open to change. By mapping out your current workflow, you can work with your new technology partner to identify areas that will need adjustment. Then, you can prepare for and manage those changes successfully.

    Lack of Objectives

    Objectives are not the same as expectations. Objectives are specific goals. Setting goals allows you to make sure that the solution you choose and processes you put in place are designed to help you reach certain objectives. You need to ask some basic questions. Do you want to make more money? Provide better client care? Improve documentation costs? Expand your services? For each service, these essential goals are unique. It’s important to make your goals S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-tracked).

    Inadequate Infrastructure

    Be sure you have the right infrastructure in place for your EHR. A lack of necessary bandwidth can slow down every process in your agency when you launch. Make sure you have the connectivity and speed to complete all your tasks and choose the right hardware for your needs.

    Missing Milestones

    Once you are ready to start your implementation, don’t forget to set some clear milestones for success with your technology partner. Set realistic dates for achieving specific items like training, billing, etc. Then, don’t get derailed by implementation challenges. Stick to your schedule!

    Inadequate Training

    If people are not trained adequately it will slow down your transition to an EHR. So don’t skimp on the training! Get as much training as you need for everyone on your staff, and select staff to train as super users to support the rest of the staff after your training is over.

    Unprepared Clients

    No matter how well trained and prepared your staff are, the change to EHR will slow things down initially. Tell your clients what is going on and ask for their patience and understanding.

    Bad Customer Experience

    Many providers don’t think about how the EHR will impact their interaction with clients. The fact is that using technology to document while you are with a client does affect that experience. Awareness is the first step to addressing this. Think about what type of device will work best and how you can use it to engage the client instead of letting it come between the provider and the client. Always be thinking of the client – and make sure your workflow and system configuration ensures the interaction provides a positive experience.

    Thinking You’re Done

    When it comes to managing your agency and improving your business, you are never done. Whether it’s EHR or billing, there is always something new. And you should expect your partner to have a robust plan for ongoing product development. These new tools and features will help you continue to improve the quality of your client care and the management of your business.