Health Information Management

Tips to help ensure effective EHR implementation

HIM-HIPAA Insider, February 2, 2010

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Just getting started with your transition to an EHR? Consider these tips from experts in the field as well as some of the providers who’ve been in your shoes:
  • “Don’t buy (or build) a Cadillac when a Volkswagen will do,” says Chris Simons, RHIA, director of utilization management and HIM and the privacy officer at Spring Harbor Hospital in Westbrook, ME. Staff members at Simons’ hospital were naturally excited about all of the options available to them. But it meant that they sometimes built dictionaries (i.e., choices in table format) that were very complex. Staff members then had a very difficult time using them, she says. “You don’t have to use all the bells and whistles at the beginning,” Simons says. “Keeping it simple and focused will give you a better product and much happier end users.”
  • “First things first,” says Darice Grzybowski, MA, RHIA, FAHIMA, president of HIMentors, LLC, in La Grange, IL. “When getting ready to plan for implementation of your EHR system, make sure you leave plenty of time for planning the most important component of your system—your [electronic document management system (EDMS)], which should encompass both document imaging and HIM workflow support.” This includes release of information, coding and abstracting, Master Patient Index management, work queues, and reporting. Take adequate time—at least six months—to ensure that your medical record forms are properly identified by barcoding for indexing and queue control, says Grzybowski. “This way you make sure that whatever system you use, you won’t have to add additional staff for clerical support, and your efficiency, productivity, and quality processing will improve,” she says. This strategy helps you avoid finding yourself trapped in a hybrid or fragmented system that forces you to split your legal health record into various source system components for access, says Grzybowski.
  • “Get involved early and stay involved through the implementation and after for all of the upgrades,” says Tricia Truscott, HIM director at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, IL. “Make sure you are trained prior to any upgrades and have an HIM advocate on the implementation team if possible.” In addition, if you can, Truscott suggests you upgrade to double computer screens as much as possible.
Editor’s note: For more tips, view the February 2010 issue of Medical Records Briefing.

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