The importance of your clinical, operational, and revenue cycle systems cannot be overstated. A service disruption could have a significant adverse impact on your agency, as well as the behavioral health community itself. Therefore, any new system must be implemented in a manner that ensures the continuity of your collective operations.
In addition, you want to make sure this transition to an improved operating environment and the related investment in people, process, data, and technology afford you the following agency-wide benefits:
- Improved clinical care/quality of care
- Optimized revenue cycle management
- Increased productivity
- Optimized agency financial operations
- Increased provider satisfaction
- A scalable technology infrastructure that can support your goals for expansion and growth
Agencies spend substantive time evaluating EHR options and selecting and contracting with the right vendor. And now, in anticipation of the considerable implementation and organizational change investment related to implementing an EHR system (for the first time, or even more so if a replacement), Xpio Health advises our clients to allocate preparation time and effort early in the process, if not before the start of the implementation. This allows organizations to confirm proper staff, methods, and tools are in place to manage the transition while also taking advantage of this opportunity to consolidate, streamline, and optimize.
Xpio Health recommends the following activities be addressed as the next crucial preparatory step:
The vendor will have their plan for the deployment of their product, but they typically won’t know the detailed organizational specifics that allow for an optimum transition. For maximum effectiveness, develop these plans and inventories as subsets of the overall implementation plan:
- Implementation Plans (beyond the vendor-provided plans)
- Resource Plan
- Communication Plan
- Change Management Plan
- Risk Management Plan
- Quality Management Plan
- Compliance Management Plan
- Detailed Budget Plan
- Roles and Responsibility Matrix
- Inventories of Forms, Reports, Payors, Services and Rates
Data migration strategy
How will data be migrated from the old EHR into the new system? Consider all data (including paper), along with retention requirements, to create a strategy that will facilitate a smooth transition into a working system with disruption of business continuity. Consider all factors, including both systems, anticipated timelines, “warm” storage of inactive files, optimization of live data, and everything else that could impact business and patient records migration.
And not all data will / should go into the new system. Yet records retention requirements mean you’ll have to maintain some level of history, and a plan for that should be in place.
Project and organizational communications
Plan for robust communication about the transition with the project team and with the entire organization (including external stakeholders). Make a schedule for communication and stick to it. Constant updates will help the organization avoid confusion, misunderstandings, crosstalk and missed deadlines.
Connect people, processes, data, and technology with outcomes
If we could isolate the one dimension of care that warrants the most attention, it would likely be health outcomes: Did patients get better while in treatment? Plan accordingly, and integrate the right people, processes and tools into the implementation readiness plan. Make it easy to see and track the continuum of care for each patient and program.
Data Governance: Business workflow, data collection and reporting standardization
Your organization’s data is your most valuable non-human asset. Build a set of rules and conditions to govern how data is managed in your company. These rules will guide the workforce in terms of collecting, handling and reporting data and will assist the executive team by providing a standardized data set that supports business strategy and treatment outcomes.
While EHR functionality such as scheduling, appointment setting, clinical assessment, treatment planning, service delivery and documentation, and billing and payment management are all essential, keep in mind your EHR is a collection tool for the critical data you’ll need to manage the organization and the care you deliver.
Resource allocation and system readiness
The EHR implementation period is the right time to review your current system in light of the pending changes. How are resources allocated now, and what might work better? Does the system update create an opportunity for updating technical infrastructure like servers and VPN systems? Is the current deployment of staff suitable for the new system, or is it a good time to shuffle roles and expand some individuals’ responsibilities?
Readiness means preparing for a successful transition
Since you know the change is coming, don’t wait to start getting ready. Examine your organization’s preparedness for the upgrade, and put plans in place to make the most of it. A little extra effort and planning will pay dividends for your organization and the people it serves.
We understand that not every agency has the resources to implement a robust access management process, let alone build a robust cybersecurity program. Xpio Health invites you to learn more about our Security and Compliance services. Inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org.