By: Tom Giannulli, MS, MD
Technology can bring a lot of benefits to your practice, but you need to choose and implement it thoughtfully. Here is some advice on avoiding mistakes.
The Black Book Ranking 2015 User Survey on top integrated billing and EHR vendors made one thing very clear - the majority of small practice physicians believe their billing processes and technology need updating and they are looking for integrated platforms. In addition, many are seeking an EHR-centric solution.
Recent surveys suggest that as many as 60 percent of providers are looking to upgrade EHR technology. As a practice, you need to know, how can you avoid the mistakes of the past and get the most from the technology you choose this year?
There are two common mistakes that can make or break the success of a technology investment. The first is buy-in, which is critical to choosing a solution that works across your practice. The second is training, which practices often skip or skimp on because staff think they can figure it out themselves.
The reality is that getting buy-in across the practice is critical. In the past, it has been all too common that a practice manager or lead physician will choose a solution, make the purchase, and expect everyone else to adapt. Then, staff struggle with workflow changes or find themselves seeking workarounds because the features they really needed aren’t there are.
Give everyone the chance to give input into the process. What features do they need most? What do they like or not like about the current technology or process? What would help them be more efficient? Map out all the features and input from everyone. As you narrow down the field of options give staff a chance to see a demo or try the product (if they offer a free trial). Then, gather feedback on the final choices.
Sometimes, there is a lone holdout. No system is perfect for everyone, but you can’t let this hold you up from making improvements for your practice. One solution is nonresistance. If everyone else in the practice has made a decision then the last person has to agree to move forward and support the choice made by the rest of group. If you don’t discuss this and you bypass that person it can backfire later. That employee may sabotage - knowingly or unknowingly - the efficiency and effectiveness of your new technology.
Once you choose your new technology, the single most important thing to ensure success is getting the right type and amount of training. Don’t skimp. Don’t take a do-it-yourself approach. Take advantage of every bit of training that is made available.
A report from AmericanEHR showed that EHR satisfaction and success are directly tied to the duration and quality of training. People who are not adequately trained can cause problems by:
1. Slowing down patient intake.
2. Making mistakes.
3. Inaccurately documenting or coding.
4. Developing bad habits that create inefficiency.
This can impact patient care and your bottom line. So talk to vendors about the training they offer and in what formats. Find out if you can add more training or have someone come onsite if your practice needs extra help to make the most of the system. Even if there are additional costs, the value of proper training can’t be overstated. It will pay off later.
New, more efficient technology can truly help your practice in many ways from improving patient satisfaction to increasing revenue. But if you don’t get staff buy-in and the right training you can end up right back where you started. Take the time and make the investment to get the true benefits of the solutions you choose and you won’t regret it.