Health Information Management

Topic: Think big picture, understand terminology when implementing your EHR

HIM-HIPAA Insider, July 23, 2007

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The core technical process of implementing an electronic health record (EHR) is the task of the "system build" and related testing and training. These are the most technically detailed tasks, and the ones most specific to each vendor's product. In an EHR implementation process, system build, sometimes called system configuration, refers to:

  • Loading of master files and tables
  • Customizing (or approving the use of vendor-supplied) screens, templates, and decision-support aids (and accompanying workflows and processes)
  • Setting up technical security controls
  • Developing interfaces, especially for data to feed into the clinical data repository

Testing is the process that verifies that each component of the EHR works as intended, and that all of the components work together. Integrate training into the system build and testing processes. There are many aspects of training--some of which your EHR vendor can help you with, others of which you will want to address outside the scope of the vendor offerings.

Implementation culminates in going live; however, you must also plan pre-live activities, recognize milestone achievements, gain end-user adoption, and prepare for ongoing system maintenance and enhancements well in advance. Integrate these processes into your implementation. Pre-live conversion activities--some of which start very early in implementation and others that happen at the last minute--include data preparation, chart conversion, data conversion, a go-live readiness review, a turnover rehearsal, implementation staffing, and the actual turnover.

Editor's note: This article was adapted from HCPro's book The No-Hassle Guide to EHR Implementation. For more information, click here.

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