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5 Steps to a Successful EMR Implementation or Transition

five people sitting around a table calmly discussing business options for software implementation

Implementing a new behavioral health EMR software platform can seem like a daunting task, but if it is planned well, everything can go smoothly. As the phrase goes, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Here are five steps to help you prepare for completing a successful EMR implementation or transition.

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1. Designate an Implementation Committee

Having an internal implementation committee is key to any successful deployment of a new EMR software platform. It is essential to include super users from each of your facility’s operational units. For example, your implementation committee may consist of an admissions representative, behavioral health therapist, clinical director, and billing manager. By doing so, you’ll have input from experts in your operations’ key functions, but be careful to keep the committee limited to a small number of people. Most importantly, ensure that you have a single, dedicated project manager who is ultimately accountable for a successful implementation.

2. Discovery

During discovery, your team and the EMR provider’s implementation representative will discuss your current operations and workflows, business rules and challenges, and desired outcomes. After discovery is complete, you should have a comprehensive roadmap and project plan.

Review Current State & Workflow Analysis

This portion of discovery allows you to bring clarity to your current operations and workflow for all parties participating in the implementation. More importantly, though, taking the time to identify the current state in detail will allow the group to identify areas of opportunity for process improvement.

In this step, you should also identify any current challenges or missing functionality. For example, maybe your admissions team does not have a CRM and currently uses a manual process to transfer information to the clinical team. Identifying challenges will ensure you discuss them in the discovery process and prevent you from skipping over the problems by simply replacing your current structure and process with different technology.

Remember that this is an opportunity to improve your technology and an opportunity to improve your workflows and operations as a whole.

Establish Baselines

It’s important to establish baselines at the start of implementing any new technologies. In this step, you’ll want to discuss and document the current key performance indicators. For example, it could be helpful to know how many claims your billing manager can process in a day or how long it takes your team to transfer information from admission to EMR records. By knowing your current KPI performance, you’ll be able to understand and quantify the effect and ROI of implementing a new EMR technology.

Define the Launch (Big Bang or Incremental)

Launching a new EMR or platform can be done in one broad swipe or can be done incrementally. For example, Sunwave is a comprehensive platform that contains EMR, CRM, RCM, Telehealth, and many other modules. You may want to incrementally launch starting with the CRM and EMR and then follow with RCM later. You may also prefer to incrementally launch by facility or team. It’s best to discuss which type of launch meets the needs of your business.

Roadmap/Project Plan

One of the most important tasks of any implementation is defining and documenting the roadmap and project plan. This should include the primary milestones and each task that needs to be completed to achieve that milestone. Every item should have projected completion dates to help keep everyone focused on the desired timeline.

3. Build Out & Data Migration

Now it’s time to hit the ground running. Everything is documented and planned, all of the project needs have been clearly defined, and everyone is on the same page. This is the stage where your EMR provider will help customize the platform to meet your workflows, build out your unique forms, and execute on the defined configurations you came up with in discovery. If steps one and two were successful, step three should be a breeze.

Next, you’ll work on any necessary data migration. Depending on your legacy technology platforms, this can be a relatively simple or very intricate process. In any case, your new EMR platform partner will be by your side throughout the migration and will help your team to extract, transform, and load the data in the best manner possible.

4. Training

Once the platform has been built out, and your data has been migrated, your new EMR provider will coordinate training for your team. Making training a priority is key to any successful implementation, and all staff should attend. Additional training should be available to superusers so that they can assist the rest of the team after launch. Having internal users extremely well-versed in the new platform will help ease the rest of your team’s anxieties.

5. Consistently Evaluate KPIs & Continually Improve

The last step in any implementation should be to consistently evaluate your KPIs and implement a plan to improve continually. Actively monitoring your KPIs will help you understand if issues need to be addressed or if areas can be improved.

Also, do your rounds with your team. Check in on their experience, find out what they like about the platform and where they might be having challenges. Sometimes challenges can be easily overcome with additional training, or perhaps other platform customizations are needed. In any case, difficulties can be remedied, but only once you know about them.

Implementing a new EMR does not need to be a painful process. In fact, it should be an opportunity to improve not only your technology but also your workflows and business processes. At Sunwave, we help treatment facilities with a comprehensive unified treatment platform to manage all their operations. When it comes time to implement, our team of experts manages the process with you and your team – ultimately delivering the best platform for your unique treatment facility. To learn more about Sunwave’s modules and benefits, schedule a demo with one of our platform experts.