It’s not easy to build an epic EHR team. For one thing, the decision to both buy and implement EHR is typically a huge strategic investment in technology, training and people. For a provider to implement EHR on a large scale, it takes hiring and training hundreds of IT professionals to design, build, maintain, upgrade and optimize the EHR, according to HIT consultant. In many ways, successful EHR implementation or transition is dependent on having the right IT and leadership team. According to HealthIT.gov, successfully creating and managing an EHR implementation team before your plan your approach team is an essential step in the process of successfully implementing EHR. It is best to build your implementation team as you set goals, create a unified vision of EHR implementation and assess your practice readiness, according to HealthIT.gov.
Building Your EHR Team
First and foremost, it’s important to note that your EHR leadership team, also known as the steering committee, can literally make or break the implementation process. Depending on the size and type of your facility and organization, your leadership should consist of three or more members from a diverse range of backgrounds and departments.
The “must-have” attributes, according to a recent report published by the National learning Consortium are:
- The ability and willingness to devote sufficient time (typically at least two hours per week) for team meetings and to gather information for the system build and workflow development.
- A consistently positive point of view toward the solution and implementation process
- One lead member who has the responsibility and willingness to make final decisions particularly when conflicts arise
Below, we describe some of the most important positions to include as your build your next EHR leadership team, according to “Creating a Leadership Team for Successful EHR Implementation”, a document recently published by the National Learning Consortium.
EHR Team Lead
The EHR Team Lead makes the final decisions regarding the implementation plan and is a key stakeholder in the overall process. This person will oversee the entire process and will work closely with the EHR Implementation Manager and other Leads.
EHR Implementation Manager
The EHR Implementation manager is responsible for making sure projects move forward. Typically, there is a vendor counterpart to this position. This person acts as a project manager, responsible for monitoring the work plan and ensuring the that project stays on schedule and within scope. It is recommended by the National Learning Consortium that the Implementation Manager maintain a list of vendor and practice issues that need to be resolved.
Additionally, the manager would be responsible for scheduling implementation-related events, such as hardware deliveries and live dates and delegating tasks to the other members of the implementation team. In a smaller setting, the manager would also be responsible for communicating updates to the rest of the practice. In some cases, the practice manager may take on this role.
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This person acts as go-between for physicians and the implementation team. The physician champion acts as “point of reference for how things are done from a clinical perspective and how physicians need the EHR application to function,” according to the National Learning Consortium. The physician champion is usually also responsible for keeping other physicians up to date on the progress of the implementation process and for maintaining physician “buy-in” to the project.
Nurse Lead and MA Leads
The nurse lead is important and plays a central role on the team, acting as a liaison between nurses and the implementation team. When choosing a nurse lead, be sure to pick someone who is a respected leader at your organization and can inspire other nurses to embrace change. Managing change can be difficult, but if you have your best employees leading the way by example, it’s a lot more likely that the rest will follow.
The Medical Assistant Lead essentially plays the same role as the Nurse Lead, except is responsible for driving consensus among medical assistants. Additionally, the MA Lead should understand medical assistant workflows.
Information Technology Lead
Your IT lead is responsible for all things related to deployment and operation of the software and hardware, including workstations, wireless tablets, printers and scanners. The IT lead should be the first point of contact for anyone who has questions about the implementation process, or the operation of software and hardware. It’s likely that it will take a considerable amount of education, training and trial and error before all of your employees feel comfortable with the new system, especially since the level of comfort and familiarity with technology use may vary from employee to employee.
A Super-User is a staff member who is trained to use the EHR system prior to its implementation so that they can “expedite IT support and provide problem-solving at the point of need to other staff members during implementation.” A Super-User Lead typically helps lead the recruiting and training process for Super-Users. Super Users should be technologically savvy staff members who can quickly share helpful hints, tips and techniques to help other employees. If you get a core group of Super Users together, they can assist in providing internal training to office staff and clinicians. This role is essential to the implementation process because the required traning combines specilized EHR trainignw ith training on how the EHR will be used in your organization for your specific workflow and patient population, according to a HealthcareIT.gov FAQ.
The Long Road to Successful Implementation
We’ve highlighted some of the key members to hire when building your EHR Leadership Team, however, for successful implementation, you will need to hire people to fill additional roles we did not mention. Some of these roles include a Workflow Design Lead, EHR Builder, Billing Lead, Meaningful Use Manager and a Lab Staff Lead.
Regardless of the titles you choose and how many people you hire, it’s important to cover all of the recommended steps of the planning phase, including mapping our your current state, planning your future state, planning for contingencies, building an implementation plan and planning for chart migration. In order to preserve privacy and security, you will also need to hire people who can understand and interpret data elements, network architecture and security. To learn more, consider visiting HealthIT.gov, which is overflowing with content to help guide your through the complex EHR implementation process.
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