Planning: An Epic Task
Epic consolidates your patients’ EHRs, collecting their past medical history into one database that will be updated with every visit. This bevy of information helps practitioners have a better understanding of each patients’ individual needs and provide them with the best possible healthcare. Implementing Epic can also streamline other processes in your facilities such as appointment creation and billing. This provides a uniform platform for patients to interact with throughout the entire process.
Before Epic can begin benefitting patients and staff, however, your organization must begin the long process of implementing the Epic system. This includes setting up the server or database, connecting medical devices for live updates, and compiling each individual medical record, all while training staff on using their new Epic system along the way. Though it may seem daunting at this stage, launching Epic can be done successfully! Here are some tips from our Epic consultants with EHR implementation experience.
Select a dedicated consultant to oversee key aspects of the Epic Implementation:
Transitioning into the Epic EHR system should be directed by someone who makes its success their main objective, both in beginning the implementation and after launching the healthcare IT software. This person is often an experienced Epic Project Manager, or a consultant with similar experience, but their most important qualification will be their devotion to the success of the Epic project.
In order to build a strong culture within the implementation staff early on, this Epic Project Manager should organize a group from varied positions within the institution for hiring and be actively involved throughout the consultant hiring process. This allows input and communication from several departments which will be directly affected by the EHR implementation.
Another task this person should perform immediately is the creation of committees to oversee the technical staffing team, decide on Epic project budgeting changes, and for institutional communication, among others. As the implementation process is immense, compartmentalizing oversight is critical in addressing any issues that may arise. Having committee members with different backgrounds and institutional roles should allow for decisions made in regards to the implementation process to be more representative of the wants and needs of the institution, staff, and patients.
Consider the size of your Epic team and workspace:
Before beginning the strategic staffing process, it is important to evaluate how many new personnel will be needed. Oftentimes, cost is the first consideration made. Some consider hiring fewer Epic consultants to reduce cost or hiring more personnel in hopes of completing the process faster. When deciding this, however, one factor that should be taken into account is the available workspace within your hospital or health system facilities.
In cases where too much workspace is available or more workspace is needed after hiring, the Epic implementation process becomes inefficient. Even a small misbalance in this equilibrium can cause delays in the beginning of the HIT project that impact every subsequent deadline. Therefore, making these two decisions beforehand is critical for a successful Epic launch.
Create a dynamic team of new and existing Epic experts:
You know to find experienced IT professionals and IT consultants who have implemented Epic before, but it is just as important to recruit members of your current staff for this project. This partnership between new and current HIT staff will be mutually beneficial. Your current IT staff, for example, can gain invaluable experience throughout the Epic implementation, which will help in the future when updates and Epic module support are needed. Further, a well-rounded group that has familiarity with your current systems can provide constant support for the new members of your Epic team as they archive EHRs.
Additionally, if you plan to connect essential medical devices such as heart monitors to the system for direct data entry into the Epic EHR, it is important to have practitioners who know what information should be collected and at what frequency.
Develop a focused culture:
Having an amalgam of new and current staff for the implementation helps to develop a strong culture that reflects your institution’s goals within the dedicated group. A good basis for this is to frame the success of the Epic implementation as more than just finishing a job priority: it will also contribute to patients’ recoveries.
Prioritize steps of the Epic implementation process:
Cataloguing your patients’ EHRs will certainly be the most time-consuming part of the implementation, but there will also be other stages that need to be implemented. Medical devices, appointment systems, and hospital billings systems are just some of these other functions.
It is advantageous to plan the order of these secondary Epic implementations. This can be determined by taking into account the necessity of the functions (such as prioritizing heart monitors and ventilators over billing) as well as the difficulty of implementing these medical devices or other processes.
Schedule Epic training and quality testing throughout the EHR implementation:
Plan to test the system as it is implemented and fix any errors along the way in order to provide a more polished product on Epic Go-Live day. Identifying any functionalities that are not behaving as they should or causing problems for hospital staff beforehand will greatly decrease the probability of encountering major problems after go-live.
Launch day can also be hindered by slow user adaptation to the new Epic software. However, the duration of this learning curve can be shortened significantly by providing staff with the opportunity to train throughout the implementation. Consider bring on some Epic certified trainers or a few Epic credentialed consultants to assist with this training. Staff should be given time to practice interacting with the system via simulations, which can be done for some of the Epic modules before go-live occurs. As the staff learns to use the new system, they will also be contributing towards testing the software and can provide feedback on its functionality.
If you’re interested in partnering with Virtelligence on your next EHR implementation project, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to find our more information about the Virtelligence Edge in EHR consulting.
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