Timeline for the Transition to an EMR: After Integration (Part 3 of 3)

This is the third in a three-part series on the different stages an ambulatory surgery center goes through when switching to an electronic medical records system. Part one appeared in the October issue of Becker’s ASC Review and on www.beckersasc.com. Part two appears on p. 29.

In this final part of a three-part series, we will be focusing on the third stage of an ASC’s transition to an EMR — the period after integration. There are five steps your ASC should take during this stage, when you will continuously work to maximize the benefits of the investment in the EMR and ensure all staff members are using the system properly.

1. Reevaluate education and perform follow-up training. Very few ASCs will utilize every feature of an EMR on the day the system goes live. An EMR has numerous tools, and learning about these resources and how to use them effectively during initial training, and retaining this information can be a challenge.

Once you are comfortable with using the tools learned during initial training, your EMR vendor will return to your ASC to discuss your staff ’s experience and address any questions or redo training in specific areas. Then you will put your team, primarily the “super users” discussed in parts one and two, through training on the additional EMR features you want to incorporate into your operations.

2. Train new employees. When new employees join your team, they will need to receive EMR training. This is where your super users come in. As with any employee training, set aside sufficient time for your super users to train new employees on using the system. They should start slowly, covering the essential components at the beginning, and then gradually educate them on the specific components of the EMR that will become their responsibility.

If your ASC experiences significant staff turnover and your super users are challenged to educate a large number of new team members, ask your EMR vendor to send a few representatives to your ASC to conduct on-site training.

3. Workflow remediation. When you switch to an EMR, your ASC will assign staff members to new tasks and will likely reassign some responsibilities in an effort to improve workflow. If any of these assignments do not improve your operations, work with your team to reassign responsibilities to better optimize workflow.

4. Undergo upgrades. Like most software, your EMR will undergo periodic upgrades. When your vendor informs you about a planned upgrade, learn about the improvements and new features prior to the upgrade. Request educational materials from your vendor on the changes; these materials may include documentation, pre-recorded videos, and live webinars providing a walkthrough of what will change with the upgrade.

When it’s time for the upgrade, work with your EMR vendor to schedule it during off-hours. After the upgrade is completed, explore the new features as soon as possible so the education you received on the changes is fresh in your mind.

5. Expand your use of the system. As we mentioned earlier, it is worthwhile to examine the ancillary features of the EMR that are not being utilized by your ASC and determine whether these resources should become a part of your operations. This philosophy is also true for new features introduced during upgrades.

Remember not to rush incorporating new features. Ensure your staff members are comfortable using the current features first. If you introduce a new resource at the right time, your team will be ready to embrace the change and the tool will contribute to the improvement of your ASC’s workflow.

Making the switch
Making the switch to an EMR is a gradual process, and one that requires an ASC-wide commitment, teamwork and patience. But once the switch is made and integration completed, ASCs will find their effort and the investment in the system pays immediate, significant dividends as an EMR allows them to work smarter, more efficiently, reduce costs and provide better care to their patients.

Joe Macies is the CEO of AmkaiSolutions, software/services provider to the ASC industry and its affiliated practices and clinics. The company’s AmkaiCharts EMR, together with the AmkaiOffice administrative program, provides a comprehensive, fully integrated solution designed for the specific needs of the ASC. Learn more at www. amkaisolutions.com.

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