Thought Leadership

Including Clinical Staff During the EHR Selection & Implementation Process is Critical

An EHR has the potential to be a useful tool to support clinical decision making and increase productivity, but the opposite can be true if the EHR’s limitations require clinicians to accommodate the system rather than the other way around. It’s not always feasible for all levels of staff to be closely involved in the vendor selection process, but it’s important to have clinical staff on the front lines represented, as the success of the system on every level relies heavily on the end users.

the EHR Selection & Implementation ProcessGetting clinical staff involved as early in the process as possible – preferably during selection and not just implementation – is also critical to obtaining staff buy in for the changes. A system that has the theoretical capability to meet all of the organization’s needs can fail or succeed based on how it’s being used, and the staff are much more likely to feel like they have a stake in making it work if they feel like their input was used to select it.

The vendor selection and implementation process typically serves as an opportunity for the agency to take a look at what the current procedures are, what can change, and what needs to change. This includes determining what can be accomplished through the EHR and what is required to be accomplished through staff training. An EHR will rarely be able to do everything an organization would like it to, so at times clinical staff may end up adapting their workflow in relation to how the system functions. Giving end users an opportunity to contribute to this discussion can be invaluable for multiple reasons:

  • Often, clinical staff members use an eclectic or multi-faceted approach when working with clients, so it makes sense that staff could also come up with some creative ways of working within the EHR. The goal is for the new system to assist in relieving the need for workarounds. However, there will be times (both in choosing a new EHR and setting it up) that clinical staff may be able to provide a different perspective that can result in an outside-of-the-box solution that will help to mitigate any limitations the new system may be perceived to have.
  • Clinical staff are in the best position to recognize the practical limitations that come from working in the field. For example, if a clinician often has to enter information in a shared interview room rather than a private office, this process may limit what data they are able to post on the wall or carry with them and therefore, the number of “cheat sheets” they can be expected to rely on.
  • Choosing a new EHR can be as much about process change as about choosing a vendor. It’s very possible that there are rules and procedures that have been in place for so long that nobody remembers why the procedures were initiated that way. It’s important for staff to not feel like they have to defend the way they have been doing things for years.

Clinical staff are just one piece of the puzzle in the complicated process of selecting and implementing a new EHR, but they are an important voice to be heard. Structuring the project as an overall collaborative process that includes the opinions of clinical staff and end users from every part of the agency will ensure that staff will possess the tools that they need to provide the best client care possible.

All Thought Leadership
Download our EHR Implementation Plan Template