Choosing an EHR is a significant investment in time, resources, and staff goodwill. Therefore, it is crucial to conduct a thorough readiness assessment, consider vendor options carefully, and commit the resources necessary through full use and adoption of the software. For nursing homes and comprehensive care communities, the vendor landscape is wide. Several large solutions offer consolidated billing, MDS, care plan, MAR/ TAR, and resident care solutions. For assisted living, memory care, and senior housing, vendors have responded with a range of options from basic care tracking tools to integrated family/ provider engagement platforms.
This guide will help prepare you for an implementation by describing basic project management concepts, offering an overview of EHR options, and detailing how to construct an outcome-oriented training plan.
Project Management Basics
Choosing a project manager and sponsor
Selecting a person to manage an EHR project is crucial to success. The project manager should be organized, an effective communicator, and familiar with the care setting, resident requirements, and staff capabilities. Most important of all, the project manager must have sufficient free time to manage the project effectively, respond to challenges and problems quickly, and support implementation with on-the-ground support at critical junctures.
Equally important is choosing the right project sponsor who “authorizes” the project. This person must have sufficient decision-making ability and availability to support the project, remove roadblocks, and make critical decisions in a timely manner.
Picking the project team
The project team should include, at a minimum:
- Representatives from administration
- Clinical leaders
- Clinical users
- IT staff
- Ancillary department staff (dining, environmental services, social services, marketing, etc.)
- Resident representatives
Project team members should be collaborative thinkers, team players, and committed to the organization’s goals and mission.
Scoping the project
A careful project scoping process is essential to accurately forecast budget needs and time requirements. Will the project include IT infrastructure upgrades? Workflow analysis consulting? Conversion of paper records? What positions and resources will become permanent and what will be solely project-based?
Managing the project process
A successful project requires ongoing attention, oversight and adjustment. Organizations will want to consider postponing other strategic initiatives during the implementation process to focus on the work ahead. When adjustments are needed, the project team should act swiftly to avoid losing momentum and support.