Serving the home health, home care and hospice industry since 1999.

by Tom Maxwell

Six out of 10 users (59%) believe EMRs need a complete overhaul, according to a 2018 Stanford Medicine survey.
A JAIMA study from the same year shows much of care providers' EMR dissatisfaction begins and is heightened during implementation.

It doesn't stop with providers though. The initial disruptions to daily operations that often accompany an EMR implementation negatively affects patients. Patients sense the confusion and dissatisfaction and become disgruntled as well. 

Mitigate the frustration that comes with implementation and enhance post implementation buy-in by implementing your EMR correctly. Here’s how.

  1. Choose the right EMR. Because of the inevitable organizational disruption that comes with any technology implementation, you can’t afford to implement more times than you need to.
  • Do your research. Don’t stop after talking with the EMRs' sales teams. Go beyond their vantage point and talk to your industry peers. That's where you'll learn not only the EMR's strengths, but most importantly its limitations. Do you know a work around for the limitations? Can you learn from that organization's difficulty? One more thing: In these peer-to-peer conversations, remember to talk with more than just leadership. Interview those who use the technology in their day-to-day roles.
  • Understand your needs. Choose an EMR that allows for growing room and scalability. We often see that agencies find an EMR that addresses their current service lines but doesn't have the functionality to grow with them. Maybe you just offer home health now, but is it in your five-year plan to incorporate hospice? Understand not only where you are but where you want to go so your EMR can grow with you.  
  • Choose innovation.  We're all aware that our industry is under the microscope. We are all doing everything in our power to deliver the best care, efficiently. We can make exponential strides by employing technological innovation that goes beyond the man power and brain power we've been deploying. Your EMR needs to make you better, faster and stronger. What offerings does the EMR your vetting have to get you to that next level of efficiency and quality? Choose one that values innovation.
  • You're looking for a new EMR for a reason, don’t try to make it your old one. We so often see organizations investing the time and money in a new EMR, but then undermine it by trying to make it exactly like their old one. It's a comfort thing. They want what's familiar. Embrace your new technology and work with it--not against it.
  • The cheapest is usually not the best. You often get what you pay for. We all know this. 
  1. Prepare your staff for change. Your tech is only as good as the people using it. Those new fancy dashboards your new EMR provides will only generate that beautiful report if your team is putting the correct information in the right place. Get your team's buy in and train them well. This is accomplished in many ways but ultimately comes down to communication and respect. Talk with your team about the need for change. Set the stage and prepare them for what's to come. Most importantly, reassure them that you're going to ensure their success through the transition. Take the fear away and your team will be more likely to dissolve the walls they have against change.
  1. Invest the time. An EMR is one of your agency's most impactful, if not most impactful, investments. It sets the foundation for your people, processes and ancillary technologies. Getting it right is paramount to your agency's success and your patient's care quality. Ensure leadership, field staff and back office staff all approach implementation with this weight. Not only that, ensure your team has the bandwidth and runway to focus on the implementation's success. So often we see agencies haphazardly implement an EMR. It's approached as an additional project to tend to rather than the high priority item it is. Give your agency time and your people time to implement the right way.
  1. Get it done. Make the decision to transition, put a plan together and then transition. Don't lag and don't prolong the actual transition. We see so many organizations drag their feet through the change. It becomes tedious, exhausting and costly. The organization is working between two systems which causes duplicative work and not to mention, sometimes two payrolls. The sooner you complete the implementation the sooner you can resume business as normal.
  1. Hire expertise and resources. While members of your organization may have been through an EMR implementation before, they don’t do it every day. Hire additional resources who do this every day. They'll be additional boots on the ground who will know the most common pitfalls and will guide your agency around them--saving you time, money and ongoing dissatisfaction.

Once you've nailed your implementation, keep your organization strong with optimizations. Your EMR will have updates and initial trained users may leave their roles. Make sure you give your EMR the checkup and recalibration it needs to keep you, your team, your patients and your organization ahead of the curve. 

Tom Maxwell is co-founder and co-CEO of Maxwell Healthcare Associates, a home health and hospice consulting firm that delivers operational, technological, regulatory, clinical and financial consulting services. MHA’s core services include EMR implementations, EMR optimizations, PDGM assessments and optimizations and M&A assistance.


©2019 by Rowan Consulting Associates, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Tim Rowan's Home Care Technology Report. One copy may be printed for personal use; further reproduction by permission only.