An electronic health record (EHR) system is the bedrock of modern-day healthcare, and when choosing an EHR system, it is important for facility staff to have an EHR selection process in place that will ensure the best possible outcome for their organization.
An efficient EHR selection process will allow staff to minimize the number of problems that can arise from a flawed selection process, such as poor user satisfaction, reduced productivity, administrative inefficiencies, reduced quality of life, and low quality of care for residents.
There are a number of factors that go into choosing a long term care EHR system, including the specific needs of the organization. Here we will provide four easy steps for making the selection process easier:
1. Create a Team for the EHR Selection Process
You will first need to create a team that will be responsible for the decision-making process. This team should be composed of individuals from different departments within the facility, as well as representatives from both clinical and non-clinical staff.
The team should also have a mix of individuals with different levels of EHR experience, from those who are new to the technology to those who have been working with a long term care EHR for many years. Hence, at a minimum, the team should consist of a:
- Project manager to lead the team
- Physician to check for physician’s requirements (eDocuments, physician orders modules, etc.)
- Nurse to ensure the EHR meets their functional requirements (resource scheduling capabilities, eAssignments, messaging, etc.)
- Billing staff member to ensure the EHR has sufficient billing and long term care reimbursement capabilities
- Administrative staff members to check for all the administrative capabilities of the software such as a KPI Dashboard
The team should meet on a regular basis to discuss the EHR selection process and make decisions about which systems to consider. During these meetings, it is important to solicit input from all members of the team and to allow for open discussion. All team members should feel like they have a say in the decision-making process and that their opinions are valued.
The EHR selection process can be a long and complicated one, but it is worth taking the time to create a team that is dedicated to making the best possible decision, as the process will be smoother and more successful.
2. Put All the Requirements of the Facility In One Comprehensive Requirements List
The next step in the EHR selection process is to gather the requirements of the facility into one comprehensive list. This list should be created by the team that was assembled in the previous step and should include input from all team members.
The requirements list should be as specific as possible and should take into account the unique needs of the facility. For example, a rural long term care facility will have different EHR requirements than an urban one. Additionally, a facility that provides skilled nursing care will have different EHR requirements than one that provides assisted living services.
A sensible approach to creating a requirements list consists of the following:
- Creating user groups from stakeholders in a long term care facility
- Conducting process audits and mapping out processes with each user group
- Identifying current challenges faced in the current processes
- Categorizing challenges as software-related, hardware-related, or user-created
- Compiling and creating a requirements list for the EHR to solve stated challenges
After the requirements list is created, it should be reviewed by all members of the team to ensure that it is complete and accurate. Once the team is satisfied with the list, it can be used to evaluate different EHR systems. But first, one must consider the budget.
3. Determine the Facility’s Budget
The budget is one of the most important factors to consider when selecting an EHR system for a long term care facility. The amount of money that a facility has to spend on an EHR will largely determine which systems are options for them.
To get started, the team should sit down and come up with a realistic budget for the EHR system. This budget should take into account the cost of the software as well as the cost of any necessary hardware, implementation, and training. Additionally, the budget should include a cushion for unexpected costs that may arise during the EHR selection process.
It is worth noting that there are a number of factors that affect the cost of an EHR, such as:
- Hardware needs
- Long term care software modules needed
- Personnel that will be using the nursing home software
- The number of estates or facilities that will require the LTC software
- Training materials
- Regular servicing and maintenance of software and hardware
- Data storage costs
Once the team has come up with a budget, they can start shortlisting from among the different long term care EHR vendors.
4. Shortlist Your Nursing Home Software Vendors
After the budget has been finalized, the team can start shortlisting EHR vendors. The vendor should be able to provide a demo of their product and should be willing to answer any questions that the team may have.
Additionally, the vendor should have a good understanding of the long term care industry and be able to tailor their EHR system to the specific needs of the facility. Health IT recommends that when choosing a nursing home EHR vendor, one should:
- Assess their EHR needs
- Set SMART goals for the EHR
- Design and issue a Request For Information (RFI)
- Compare vendors based on the RFI
- Schedule a software demo
- Contact references, read case studies and consider peer reviews
Once a facility made it through the EHR selection process and settled on a long term care EHR, the implementation process begins.
The Ultimate EHR implementation Checklist
EHR implementation is the process of installing and configuring an EHR system in a long term care facility. This is what comes next after the EHR selection process, presuming a long term care facility has settled on the best long term care electronic health record software vendor to meet their needs.
For their EHR implementation process, administrators and other long term care leaders can follow this checklist to ensure that the EHR selection process and its implementation is successful:
- Plan your implementation roadmap: An implementation roadmap consists of the steps that one thinks need to occur for successful implementation after the EHR selection process. This plan should include a timeline, milestones, and specific tasks—according to roles—that need to be completed. Additionally, the EHR implementation plan should be reviewed and approved by all stakeholders.
- Define the implementation budget: The EHR implementation budget should be a continuation of the EHR selection process budget. It will take into account the cost of additional software modules, hardware, and services associated with getting the EHR system up and running. Additionally, the budget should include a cushion for unexpected costs that may arise during implementation, such as training costs. Fortunately, some LTC software vendors, such as Experience Care, offer free training modules to assist with EHR implementation and adoption.
- Train the team: Staff should be given adequate training on how to use the EHR system. The EHR vendor should provide training modules that can be used for this purpose. Alternatively, staff can be given time to play around with the EHR system in a test environment so that they can get familiar with it before it goes live. Doing so is helpful, as it ensures that all the features the nursing home EHR offers are maximized by staff to provide care to their residents. Training should always be an ongoing activity, as the software vendor may continue to add more features to the software to enhance its effectiveness.
- Configure the EHR: After the long term care EHR system has been installed, it will need to be configured to meet the specific needs of the facility. The EHR vendor or a third-party consultant should be able to assist with this process. This means creating workflows, transferring eDocuments to the new system, and converting paper into electronic records. Once the EHR system is configured, it is important to test it thoroughly before going live.
- Start enrollment and credentialing: At this stage, resident data needs to be linked with payor information. This is where enrollment and credentialing come in. Enrollment is the process of linking a resident with a payor so that claims can be processed and reimbursement received. Credentialing, on the other hand, is the process of verifying that residents meet the standards set by insurers. The EHR should have a built-in enrollment and credentialing module or electronic eligibility verification software.
- Optimize workflows: EHRs are designed to optimize workflows and make life easier for long term care staff while also enhancing the quality of care provided to long term care residents. To ensure that this happens, it is important to review all existing workflows and make changes where necessary. The EHR vendor should be able to assist with this process.
- Troubleshoot any errors: As with any new system, there will be a few teething problems. Hence, a facility should have a plan in place to troubleshoot any errors that may occur. Additionally, the EHR vendor should have a customer service team that can assist with this. Alternatively, the facility can appoint an EHR super-user who will be responsible for resolving any EHR-related issues.
Leaders should also keep in mind some of the challenges they may face after the EHR selection process when they decide to implement the EHR:
- Privacy concerns in relation to resident data
- Workflow breakup during the EHR selection process and implementation process
- The technical know-how of staff
- Unexpected costs such as data storage costs or upgrading of existing hardware
One should always talk to their chosen long term care software provider, who will then, ideally, address all of their concerns.
Book a demo with us here if you would like to test drive our affordable long term care EHR.
Must Haves for an EHR Evaluation Checklist
One thing that long term care leaders should not forget is the importance of an EHR evaluation checklist during the EHR selection process. This is because a well-designed EHR evaluation checklist can help to ensure that the EHR system chosen is the best fit for the facility. Hence, an effective EHR evaluation checklist should answer the following questions during the EHR selection process:
- Does the EHR fit your specialty? One size EHR does not fit all. Hence, it is important to ensure that the EHR system chosen has been designed specifically for long term care. This means that the EHR should have features such as point-of-care charting and e-MARs that are specific to the needs of long term care staff.
- What are the EHR’s reporting capabilities and features? The EHR should have built-in reporting capabilities and features that make it easier for long term care staff to generate the reports they need. Additionally, the EHR should be able to interface with existing data sources such as MDS 3.0 so that data can be easily transferred to the EHR.
- Will the vendor provide assistance during EHR implementation and training? EHR implementation and training can be a daunting task for long term care staff. Hence, it is important to choose an EHR vendor who will provide assistance during this process. This includes providing on-site training as well as 24/7 customer support.
- Does the vendor offer reliable customer support for successful EHR implementation? EHR implementation is not a one-time event. There will always be EHR-related issues that need to be addressed. Hence, it is important to choose an EHR vendor that offers reliable customer support. This includes having a team of customer support staff who are available 24/7 to answer any EHR-related questions.
- What interoperability capabilities does the EHR have? EHRs should be able to exchange data with other EHRs and health information systems. This is important so that long term care staff can easily share resident data with other stakeholders, such as insurers, hospitals, and home health agencies.
In short, the must-haves to be included in an EHR evaluation checklist are as follows:
- Customer support
- Deployment methodology (cloud or on-site installation)
- Available integrations
By including these in the EHR selection process, long term care leaders can be sure that they are choosing the best EHR system for their facility.
The Importance of a Demo During the EHR Selection Process
As we conclude, it is worth mentioning the importance of an EHR demo during the EHR selection process. This is because a demo can provide insight into how an EHR system works and whether it is the right fit for the facility. Additionally, a demo can also help to identify any potential issues that may arise during EHR implementation.
During an EHR demo, the long term care software vendor must provide a demo that is:
- Specific to the needs of the facility
- Tailored to the staff’s level of technical expertise
- Easy to understand and follow
By expecting and asking for these during the demonstration, long term care leaders can be sure that they are getting the most out of an EHR demo during the EHR selection process.
The bottom line is that the EHR selection process is a crucial decision-making process for long term care leaders with multiple factors that need to be considered when choosing an EHR system. However, by keeping the must-haves in mind, long term care leaders can be sure that they are choosing the best EHR system for their facility.
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