The Importance of Proper Scheduling before an EHR Go-Live

September 20, 2017 Mark Dermott

Planning the perfect EHR launch is difficult, to say the least. There are several factors to consider like communications, access management and complex workflows. And that does not even consider the biggest one, the successful adoption to a new EHR, which is never a foregone conclusion. One key to a successful EHR Go-Live however, is accurate scheduling.

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Effective scheduling requires proper resource allocation, specifically knowing how much support staff is needed per hospital user. Many hospitals use a ratio of one support person for every two physicians, and one support person for every three or four non-clinical staff. Generally, more complex specialty jobs require greater technical support than routine administrative tasks. Determining ratios and arriving at final figures requires analyzing where staff is working, and what functions are bring supported in each area. It’s a good idea to provide the contractor at least six weeks of lead time for recruiting the needed personnel for each section of the hospital.

A Go-Live event also can benefit from in-house help in the form of Super Users—clinical staff who have been pre-trained on the new application to help instruct co-workers and drive adoption. Because of their regular job responsibilities, Super Users might not be available at all times. Administrators need to decide how these personnel will divide their time between their regular jobs and supporting others. But they can continue to be a valuable resource for support and instruction even after temporary Go-Live support teams have completed their work.

There are a variety of resources that must be allocated, including application vendor personnel, Super Users and contractor staff. Administrators need to see that the right support is allocated to the right places. For example, the Emergency Department is a fast-paced and high demand environment. They will have less time for training, and thus require more support.

Align the Right Players: Hospitals should designate a project leader who will be communicating with all stakeholders. This will be the liaison between C-level executives and tactical project leads. The project leader will enable coordination between stakeholders so that the hospital, vendors and contractors can have people in place to ensure the needed level of support for clinical, operational and administrative functions.

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Coordination also will be needed to support on-boarding prior to the Go-Live date. This will ensure that all requirements are met, such as needed immunizations and certifications for persons working in medical environments. Addressing this in advance can help avoid unnecessary delays while putting support in place.

It’s also important to perform a technical dress rehearsal before the Go-Live date, allowing clinicians to try the system before their work with real patients. A scaled-back clinical schedule in the first weeks of the rollout can also help things run more smoothly. A 50 percent reduction in working with patients can go a long way toward easing the stress of the rollout while the system is being learned.

Access management should also begin before the Go-Live date. Authorizations, log in verification when necessary, and credential provisioning should be done early enough so access can be tested before going live. This can reduce the number of helpdesk requests when systems come online.

Finally, make sure that all client software is installed properly, works properly and that all hardware is configured properly before training begins. Planning the perfect EHR launch may be difficult. But by following these tips, Go-Lives can become a lot easier to coordinate, with a more smooth deployment and less stress on the staff as they learn and adopt the new system.

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