EHR integration ensures all your clinical data is accessible and in one place. It may include implementing a new system, consolidating data from legacy systems, or importing data shared by hospitals or other practices. A successful EHR integration process will increase data accuracy and improve satisfaction in your system.
Here are the steps to a successful EHR integration, broken into design/build and roll-out stages.
EHR Integration Design and Build Steps
Most of the integration work occurs in the design and build phase. These steps help you get your integration right the first time, saving you time and money.
Develop a Project Plan
EHR integration is a large, complex project. Like any project, it requires a project plan. A project plan is a blueprint for your EHR integration, and it identifies the staff and resources needed to achieve each milestone on the project timeline. A detailed project plan will help keep your project on time and within your budget.
A robust project plan helps your project team work together to identify the project organizational structure and critical shared goals. It also lays out the responsibilities for each project task and the interdependencies between tasks. Armed with the plan, each team member has a clear set of goals and responsibilities and knows how their work affects other team members.
The level of detail in the project plan for your integration varies with the complexity of the integration project. A project plan for a new EHR system or extensive upgrade will be more detailed and complex than the project plan for importing data shared by hospitals and practices using other EHR systems.
Design Your Data Architecture and Analyze Workflows
You should design your EHR integration with your practice's needs in mind. The key steps for your EHR integration project will vary depending on the complexity of the project, the data sources being integrated, and the needs of your practice.
A new EHR system, or integration of new data into your existing EHR system, requires you to think about your practice’s needs and workflows. If EHR usability is a critical need for your providers, design your system with maximum usability in mind. Most EHR systems, like NextGen, are customizable to fit the needs of your practice. This flexibility lets you decide whether to integrate legacy systems and how to engage with your EHR. But it also means you have to build time into your integration process to assess needs and plan for data architecture and user interfaces that meet those needs.
EHR integration also requires an assessment of workflows—all the processes you use to complete a task. These processes need to change if you are integrating legacy systems into your EHR. For example, your process for scheduling appointments will change if you integrate your legacy scheduling system into your EHR.
You need to assess your current workflows to determine what changes to make before you roll out your EHR. Above all, make sure you involve your staff in the workflow assessment and redesign process to ensure those who use the system daily have a voice in how it affects their work.
Build and Test
Any EHR project requires time for building and testing. You should complete any coding and development in a non-production environment to ensure it does not affect your system's day-to-day functioning. Building an EHR integration is a complex project, and a poorly executed data conversion or other errors could create significant problems in patient care and practice administration. Professional developers, like the NextGen developers at TempDev, can help you build your EHR integration for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
You should also create a non-production environment to test your EHR integration thoroughly. Testing should focus on your project's key goals and areas where users are likely to encounter bugs or errors. For example, if usability is paramount for your practice, your EHR integration testing period should allow providers and staff to test usability. Testing should include both EHR experts and day-to-day users and ensure that your practice's new EHR workflows operate correctly end to end.
EHR Integration Roll-Out Steps
Once you have finished testing your EHR integration, it's time to roll it out to your staff. A smooth roll-out process is vital to prevent EHR burnout.
Training is a critical part of any EHR project because it increases efficiency and system satisfaction and reduces physician burnout. Your EHR integration training should focus on key changes to your EHR system and your workflows. Keep each training short, engaging, and focused on the features your staff uses frequently. Positions within your practice require different training, so split training sessions by job type to prevent information overload.
You can also identify staff members to serve as champions and peer trainers. Internal EHR champions help other staff as issues arise, and they can provide job-specific training as needed. These dedicated internal champions help to increase your staff members’ comfort with your EHR integration.
The last step of your integration is EHR implementation. Keep lines of communication open as you roll out your EHR integration. Remember, open and honest feedback from staff will help you identify problems with your EHR integration. It will also help you adjust workflows as needed to reduce frustration and improve system satisfaction.
How TempDev Can Help with EHR Integration
TempDev’s consultants, developers, and trainers are experts in NextGen. Whether you are considering a new NextGen EHR system, an upgrade, or a clinical data conversion, TempDev can help.
Call us at 888.TEMP.DEV or contact us here to get started with your EHR integration project.
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