Avoiding Four EMR Implementation Mistakes

Electronic medical record (EMR) implementation has the potential to be an arduous process, in part because medical practices tend to make four major mistakes when transitioning from paper-based records: mismatching IT, misplacing resources, ignoring accountability, and mismanaging logistics. Below we outline those mistakes and explain how you can avoid them.

Mistake #1: Mismatching IT. According to a recent report, one of the main reasons for EMR implementation failure is unreliable IT infrastructure. When implementing an EMR, you’ll certainly need to choose the software that meets your needs—but you’ll also want to run it on the appropriate hardware.

Mistake #2: Misplacing resources. While it may be tempting to assign office staff to oversee your EMR implementation, a medical practice is not an IT organization, and managing major changes that involve IT may be beyond your staff’s abilities. It’s likely to be much more cost effective in the long run to outsource your implementation to experts.

Mistake #3: Ignoring accountability. An EMR implementation involves sweeping changes, and everyone in your medical practice likely plays a role in your normal operations, but not knowing who is responsible for what during the implementation specifically can derail the process. According to the EMR Starter Assessment Tool developed by the Community Clinics Initiative, a medical practice is ready to implement an EMR only when roles and responsibilities are assigned and clear.

Mistake #4: Mismanaging logistics. Implementing an EMR isn’t like installing software on your home computer; it requires tweaking and adjusting during many phases. Given the complexity of the undertaking, you’ll need to spend a significant amount of time planning on the front end. Document tasks, develop an implementation timeline, assign responsibilities, identify risks… and the list goes on.

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