How Cleveland Clinic Tackles EHR Implementation

How Cleveland Clinic Tackles EHR Implementation

Great EHR trainers can also make a big difference in a practice’s implementation

Recently, Schaffer consultants Daniel Dworkin, Celia Kirwan, and Evan Smith posted 5 Strategies to Drive Successful Results in EHR Implementation.

Melissa McCormack of Software Advice, a provider of reviews, comparisons and research on EHR software, reached out to the authors to share the highlights below from an interview with Cleveland Clinic’s Kelli Mangino about her experience with the EHR implementation process.

Cleveland Clinic is internationally recognized as a leader in research, education and health information. They’ve been using EHRs for over a decade. As Director of Implementation for the Clinic’s My Practice Community and My Practice Healthcare Solutions teams, Kelli Mangino has helped practices of all sizes implement and optimize EHRs.

First and foremost, Mangino emphasized the need for up-front physician engagement. Office staff is often more engaged than physicians, who sometimes prefer to simply begin using the system once it’s in place. But Mangino warns that unless physicians are involved in setting preferences beforehand, the go-live will suffer.

Mangino also discussed how quickly practices start to see benefits from a new EHR. For those transitioning from paper, benefits are immediate. Reduced paperwork and e-prescribing can be felt from day one. However, “parking the chart” – getting comfortable enough to see any given patient without referencing that patient’s old paper chart – typically takes around six months.

Practices shouldn’t try to take on too much too quickly, Mangino warns. Especially for those wary of the electronic system, starting slowly can help eliminate frustration and bottlenecking. Mangino suggests that practices consider using electronic charting for every third patient, or only new patients, until they’re comfortable enough to chart all patients electronically.

Great EHR trainers can also make a big difference in a practice’s implementation. Mangino looks to nurses and medical assistants as “secret weapons” for success. She notes that these groups are often overlooked due to lack of educational credentials (relative to physicians), but possess a unique ability to connect with all stakeholders in a practice.

McCormack and Mangino discussed some of the more surprising benefits of EHRs. In Mangino’s experience, the biggest “wow factor” is continuity. Though physicians may realize in theory that EHRs facilitate better continuity of care, until they experience it in practice they don’t realize just how much effort they’ll save.

Mangino also talked about the unexpected benefits of the patient portal, which can offer practices a means for saving time and money. Enabling patient scheduling via the portal saves staff time on the phone – and as McCormack notes, saves patients the frustrations of sitting on hold. And if physicians provide access to lab results or other documentation via the portal, Mangino says, they can cut down on mailing costs.

Mangino concludes by encouraging practices who are considering implementation to focus on up-front physician engagement for the greatest success, and to communicate with all members of the practice about what’s to come. Communication alleviates anxiety and helps keep all members of the practice on the same page.

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