staff computer

Planning the kick-off of an Electronic Health Record (EHR) implementation for a healthcare facility requires a great deal of planning and preparation to ensure your project starts off on the right track.  Once the go-live date is determined, you need to plan backwards and create a timeline that includes critical milestones such as design, build, testing, training, go-live, and post go-live maintenance and optimization.

First, an assumptions and decisions document should be developed from the start of the project that includes the guiding principles for the project, scope validation, critical success factors, operation plans, training plans, equipment plans, and other critical aspects that should be shared on a frequent basis.  After this, the executive leadership team will be able to validate the assumptions as the project moves forward, thus allowing these decisions to be easily referenced and help to keep the project on track.

One of the most important steps of a successful EHR implementation is meeting with leadership to identify core team members.  The overall scope of the project will determine which departments should be included in various committees.  Once these members are identified, they will be expected to meet on a regular basis throughout the project lifecycle.

The following aspects are essential to a successful kick-off:

  • Having the right people in the right meetings at the right times
  • A clearly defined committee structure should be developed to show how communication and decisions will be disseminated up, down, and throughout the facility
  • A charter statement for the overall project as well as for each committee will help to structure which teams are responsible for specific deliverable
  • Once the committees are established, interviews should be planned using evidence-based questions to develop a list critical tasks with start and end dates; These tasks should be scheduled during relevant times throughout the project
  • A communication plan that includes the what, when, who, how, and whys of the project
  • Evidence-based computer skills assessment surveys
  • A risk assessment template
  • A list of acronyms that include new EHR specific language.

Overall, while every project and location may have a unique approach to the implementation of EHR, following a structured and organized plan that includes the right tools, the right approach, and the right multidisciplinary team, achieving success will be an attainable goal.

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Contributed by Lynn Aguilera, RN, MSNEd, Director of Transition Planning, HTS, inc.,