Critical to the success of leveraging an ASC EHR is administrators and other decision-makers securing continued physician buy-in before, during, and after the implementation process.
Adopting an electronic health record (EHR) can provide numerous benefits to an ambulatory surgery center. It can deliver deep insight into a surgery center’s financial, clinical, and operational performance. It can automate previously manual processes. It can help boost compliance with federal regulations and accreditation standards. And, depending on the type of software, it can support improvements in areas including staff productivity, benchmarking efforts, cost-cutting initiatives, and patient, physician, and staff satisfaction.
Critical to the success of leveraging an EHR is administrators and other decision-makers securing continued physician buy-in before, during, and after the implementation process. Getting physicians up to speed on new IT solutions takes coordination, diplomacy, and empathy — especially considering that the introduction of new technologies may call for significant change for them.
Driving change and adoption in a clinical setting requires an active and intentional process. Here are 5 recommendations to help you gain physician buy-in for adding and using your EHR.
Perform an intense goal-setting process
Before evaluating any EHR systems, you must first know what you’re looking for it to support. Take adequate time to become familiar with your ambulatory surgery center’s strong points and challenges. Perform intense workflow analysis. Invite your clinical staff into low-risk conversations that generate interest rather than anxiety. Consider the future needs of your ASC.
Performing the appropriate due diligence will allow you to make an educated decision on a solution that’s best for your facility and your clinical staff, and then engaging in ongoing conversations will help you ensure a positive EHR experience.
“We had maxed out our ability to handle the case volume on paper, and we had plans to double the size of our ASC from two to four ORs in the near future. We had to consider moving to an electronic health record (EHR). When it comes to EHR, people have a fear of change and think it is less risky to do nothing. For us, not implementing an EHR was far riskier because it would keep us from growing at the pace we planned.” – Kevin Jarrard, CEO, Specialty Orthopaedics Surgery Center
Be deliberate during the selection process
After analyzing your workflows, investigating your challenges, and identifying your goals, it’s time to consider technology vendors. Thanks to your due diligence, you can research software with a keen eye and identify which EHR vendors and solutions best fit the needs of your physicians and their specific specialties and procedures. Choosing a technology that provides all the components needed for your ASC to run efficiently and cost-effectively while delivering quality outcomes can help win over your physicians’ trust and confidence.
When discussing the selected technology with your clinical staff, be transparent and speak to the barriers previously voiced by your physicians. Describe how the selected EHR favorably compares to their concerns, including privacy and security, startup costs, workflow changes, system ease of use, reliability, and interoperability. Showing that you’ve taken their concerns into account helps alleviate potential grievances. Communicate how the selected EHR can help navigate the challenges identified during the goal-setting process and demonstrate how the software can help them enhance facility workflows and deliver better patient care.
“My number of errors and notes mistakenly not completed are down to almost nothing. You’re improving accuracy for documentation as well as billing, which impacts the bottom line. But the biggest difference: I’ve been able to keep up with my work and don’t need to stay late to complete a day’s worth of documentation. That should resonate with any physician.” – Anthony Berg, MD, Anesthesiologist and Pain Management Specialist, Spine Team Texas
Choose a configurable interface
Every surgery center is different, with different specialties, volumes, needs, goals, and so on. Ensuring that the technology your physicians will use is aligned with the procedures they need to perform will help increase their acceptance and adoption of the technology. A configurable interface will allow you to tailor your EHR templates in a way that compliments how your physicians are already working without adding time-consuming workarounds and slowing your users down. Prioritizing configurability in your search for an EHR is crucial to minimizing frustrations and increasing efficiencies during the onboarding and training process. Your physicians and nurses will appreciate that foresight.
“It’s set up exactly how we intake and discharge our patients. It goes in a step-by-step order, so you really don’t even have to think about what your next [documentation] step is.” – Tish Burke, RN, Preop Nurse, Livonia Outpatient Surgery Center
Implement a software champion
Establishing a physician IT champion has been shown to be a critical success factor for a positive technology implementation experience. An effective physician/clinical champion that is clearly and visibly dedicated to the change can help develop and promote a clear vision of an improved future, enlist the support of the other physicians and staff, generate motivation and excitement, drive the process changes needed, and manage any cultural change required.
“We waited until the week before we went live to introduce the new system to the staff because we felt it was going to be an easy switch. We didn’t even need to bring any SIS staff on site. Our superusers received end-user training remotely and they trained the rest of our staff. We switched over to SIS Charts and haven’t looked back.” – Jon Van Valkenburg, CASC, Executive Director, Upstate Orthopedics Ambulatory Surgery Center
Perform supportive onboarding and training
Before moving into onboarding and training, be sure to build a support plan for your users. Take the time to run demonstrations of the technology and plan to have superusers available to assist when needed during the first few weeks of onboarding as staff begin to get comfortable with the software. Keep your goals top of mind when navigating the learning process and communicate and demonstrate the process and behavior changes repeatedly to help with engagement and adoption.
Don’t forget to check back in with physicians after the initial training. Take the time to “learn how the learner learns” and offer ongoing training sessions to help clinicians continue to build confidence and efficiency. Intentional learning and training opportunities help ambulatory surgery centers better maximize the gains of switching to an efficient EHR.
“It’s incredible from a workflow perspective. Ask any of our doctors who use the templates and they’ll all say the same thing: They changed our life. If you take just 30 minutes to learn the process, it will save you hours and hours in the future. I complete my documentation between every case, so when I’m done with my last case and do my last note, I’m actually done for the day.” – Anthony Berg, MD, Anesthesiologist and Pain Management Specialist, Spine Team Texas
Manage your ASC EHR buy-in
Remember, anything you do to support your physicians can directly impact patient care. Take your time and be methodical about your ASC EHR selection, implementation, onboarding, and training processes. Earning the trust and support of your physicians can be a make-or-break factor concerning the success of your EHR technology, and their needs and concerns should be considered during every step to help ensure buy-in.