By: Katie Lynch | November 27, 2018
You have done it!
You planned for a successful EHR implementation. You set up your systems and trained your users. You reached your go-live date!
In most cases, now is when the real work begins. While the first two phases of a successful EHR implementation are major endeavors, post-go-live is when the rubber hits the road – and you better hold on tight.
To keep your entire organization focused and headed down the right road, a strategic post-go-live plan is a must.
During your post-go-live phase, your entire organization is adapting to the new EHR system, your help desk team is getting a flood of support tickets on a daily basis, and you have mountains of data to analyze to figure out where your system needs improving.
Now is the time to buckle up and dig in so you and your team can measure success metrics and make all of the necessary final tweaks needed to ensure the health of your organization moving forward.
Here is how.
Patient Satisfaction Is Priority #1
First things first. Once you transition to a new EHR system, there are bound to be bumps along the road. That is OK! In fact, it is a natural part of the process.
However, many healthcare organizations expect themselves to be able to seamlessly switch from an outdated EHR to an entirely new system without patients noticing any ripples.
Start by being realistic with your expectations and honest with your patients. By informing your patients that you are in the process of implementing a new electronic health record system and that you appreciate their patience and understanding, you can dramatically improve patient satisfaction while also collecting valuable information that will allow you to optimize your new EHR system.
Communicate openly with your patients and let them know that if they have any trouble accessing their information online or interacting with your new EHR system (such as in a patient portal or accessing educational resources), they should let you know right away. Inform your patients that the new system will improve the quality of care they are receiving and that you value their partnership in ensuring everyone has a wonderful experience at your facility.
While many healthcare organizations prefer to send out mass emails to patients, remember that personalized communication is often the most effective. Post notices in your lobby or hand out brochures detailing the changes and how it will affect your patients.
Most importantly, always ask for their valued feedback.
Whenever an organization makes a significant shift in internal processes and operations, there are bound to be issues. Common post-go-live problems include lapses in understanding the training that was provided, forgetting minor steps in a long workflow, or resorting back to old practices.
All of these issues are common and can be rectified by providing your staff with adequate training and resources to help them acclimate to the new EHR system.
During this time, it is important to follow the needs of your staff. At John Lynch & Associates, we frequently create custom training resources for our clients during the post-go-live phase. Each organization is unique and will inevitably have unique challenges. By creating custom training resources for your organization, you can show your administrative staff and clinicians that you are listening to them and supporting them while everyone grows together.
Establish Safety Nets
Another way to follow the needs of your organization is to support your help desk staff. Your help desk will be receiving a massive influx of requests. Ask your help desk team what the most common questions are that they are receiving.
Then, designate one person on the help desk to create a single resource – such as a PDF or a web page – that answers those most common questions and can be distributed throughout the organization. These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) resources are proven to free up valuable time for your help desk, educate users, and provide an amazing sense of competence internally.
During the post-go-live phase, theory finally becomes practice. Your IT department and help desk staff will likely receive a number of questions that they had not thought of before implementing the new EHR system. Remember that this is part of the growing process and no one can anticipate every single hurdle before jumping into such a large project.
Oftentimes, staff members can become overwhelmed or discouraged during this phase when they receive far more support tickets than they had anticipated. However, you can help keep everyone focused and rowing the boat in the same direction. Encourage your help desk staff to tackle one project at a time with the common objective of fine-tuning the system and supporting the organization’s staff.
Additionally, speak with your IT staff about the importance of open and timely communication. It is common for staff to feel frustrated about dealing with particular issues and questions a few weeks post-go-live because those same issues either were not addressed or not updated with the latest status. Even a simple remark like, “Thank you for pointing this out. We are working on finding a fix” can make employees feel confident that their concerns have been heard and will be addressed.
Many organizations are surprised by how much work is still left to do after the new EHR tool has been implemented. At John Lynch & Associates, we routinely provide our clients with full-time post-go-live care for 30, 60, or 90 days, depending on the size and needs of the organization. We also offer a “health check” at key milestones to ensure everything is still going smoothly or to address new issues that have presented after continuous use of the tool.
Keep in mind that the post-go-live phase is an ongoing project. Rather than slogging forward with feelings of uncertainty or overwhelm, it is a better use of your time and investment to ask for help to quickly identify and solve post-go-live struggles. By giving it the time and attention it needs, you will be ensuring the health of your organization well into the future.
Dedication to Constant Improvement
One of the best ways to keep your organization’s focus on growth and constant improvement is by looking at the analytics of your EHR data. Your organization’s IT department may be well equipped to handle this operation or you may need to invest in an additional tool to maximize the effectiveness of your new EHR system.
At John Lynch & Associates, we use a process mining intelligence tool that encompasses all of an organization’s systems (not just EHRs) from the front end to back end of their office. Our process allows us to create a real-time picture of any bottlenecks, gaps in service, and efficiency of processes within any system.
We are also able to set up alerts within the system to flag any anomalies in the established workflows. Using these tools, we are able to help our clients optimize their processes and services to maximize patient satisfaction and physician productivity so we can all work toward achieving positive health outcomes together.
Are you ready to dive into the exciting, fast-paced world of post-go-live care? Or does your healthcare organization need some extra help to optimize your systems and reach your full potential? Contact us to find out how we can help you make the most of your new EHR system.
Did you miss the first two posts from our three-part series on implementing a new EHR? Find them here:
As always, we invite you to leave comments for us below, ask about the tools we use with our clients, or access our Organizational Health Assessment to start your journey toward a more effective healthcare organization.