Have you ever driven somewhere you’ve never been before and gotten lost? Of course, you have. We all have at one time or another. And does this make the idea of trying to find a new location on future trips cause you anxiety or stress, possibly even to the point where you’re ready to cancel your plans so you don’t have to go? These are some of the same feelings healthcare providers face when it comes to switching their electronic health record (EHR) or electronic medical record (EMR) systems.
Whether based on past experiences of software transitions that didn’t go well (such as when you get lost and suddenly realize you’re in the bad part of town) or by hearing tales of horror from other medical professionals of how their switch went wrong, the idea of transitioning from one record-keeping system to another can sometimes be enough to make you break out in a cold sweat.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. Switching EHR and EMR software can actually be a fairly smooth and seamless process, a drive in which you safely arrive at your destination with your wits and body intact. That is, as long as you follow four basic steps.
Step #1: Prep Your Current Data for Proper Conversion
The last thing you want to do is find yourself in a position where you have to convert all of your data by hand because it didn’t transfer like it was supposed to. That’s why it’s extremely important that you take all of the information currently being stored by your EHR or EMR and send it to a file that will enable you to effortlessly move it into your new system. This can be accomplished by exporting it to a CSV (comma separated values) file, an XML (Extensible Markup Language) file, or some other similar file designed to hold this type of data.
One piece of advice though: Be cautious when it comes to converting your billing and EHR information. Data here is managed very differently between every HER system. Therefore the risk of converting inaccurate information is too great.
Step #2: Prepare in Advance for ‘Road Hazards’
Just as our driving paths are sometimes hindered by trees lying in the road or potholes the size of small swimming pools, sometimes transitioning to a new EHR/EMR system presents some ‘road hazards’ too. Not to worry as a little advanced preparation can lessen their impact, possibly limiting the likelihood that they would appear at all.
For instance, as when trying to move to most anything new, a learning curve almost always applies. Yet, there are many things you can do to help lessen that curve. One option is to take advantage of pre-launch training offered by the new EHR/EMR provider. Also, take the time to look through the manual or instruction booklet, studying any online video tutorials available in order to avoid any common transition mistakes.
To help lessen the financial pinch due to any delays in accounts receivable during the transition phase, set up a clearinghouse ahead of time and print patient and insurance aging report from the old system. The more prepared you are beforehand, the fewer roadblocks you’ll face along the way.
Step #3: Anticipate Transition-Related Delays
The third step you can take for a more seamless and smooth EHR/EMR switch is to anticipate a few delays. Transferring appointments and account balances and updating patient information will require more of your staff’s time. Your workload will more than likely increase temporarily as well, both inpatient re-exams and time spent retrieving old files, which means that this process is going to take some time.
Think of it like you would if you set out to lose some weight. While it may take a while to get to a smaller pant size, once you reach your goal, you’ll be healthier and happier because of it. This leads us to the fourth and final step.
Step #4: Remember WHY You’re Switching Your EHR/EMR
If the transition from one EHR/EMR system to the next isn’t going as easily as you’d hoped or you face some unexpected hiccups along the way – which can sometimes happen no matter how much you’ve prepared – it often helps to remember why you decided to make the switch.
Was it the increase in productivity you wanted? Or maybe it was better record-keeping you were after, allowing you to provide a higher level of patient care while keeping your staff happy at the same time. No matter the reason, it helps to remind yourself (and your staff) of the many benefits of moving to your new EHR/EMR system. And as long as you keep moving forward, you will arrive at your destination…a busy chiropractic office with a record system that is able to keep up with it. This is a destination that’s definitely worth the journey.