Step 1: Assess Your Organization’s Readiness
The assessment phase is foundational to all other electronic health record (EHR) implementation steps, and involves determining if your organization is ready to make the change from paper records to EHRs, or to upgrade your current system to a new certified version.
Benefits of EHRs
The benefits of electronic health records are well documented, and critical access hospitals and small rural hospitals are well positioned to benefit from the use of EHRs. Health IT will transform how rural health care organizations collect, manage, store, use, and share health information. Health IT also helps rural health care organizations access and coordinate care, improve disease surveillance, target health education, and compile regional data – all activities aimed at improving health care quality and patient outcomes. An EHR also creates a mechanism for completing specialty referrals, which is valuable in rural communities where access to specialists is often limited.
Additionally, by using EHR technology, critical access hospitals (CAHs) and rural hospitals can access to up-to-date lab results, new medication information, and medication interaction and allergy safeguards that would not be readily available otherwise. Because many rural areas typically have a lower per capita income, additional EHR efficiencies may help to control rural health care costs to help offset lower than average reimbursement levels. Many of these EHR mechanisms and enhancements can be used to improve rural health care gaps and challenges.
Assess Your Current Organization
Your readiness assessment should provide a good understanding of the current state of your organization and help identify key goals for improvement. Consider the following components as parts of your readiness assessment:
- Assess your organizational leadership for:
- Readiness and aptitude
- Willingness to undertake the project
- Understanding of the impact of the project
- Commitment to the human capital investment and deep clinical involvement
- Review your organization’s external technical environment
- Local/regional/state level health information exchange (HIE) availability
- Local technical expertise and staff extenders (e.g. consultants, business partners)
- Assess organizational financial readiness and investment needs
- Inventory your current IT environment before you determine what new items need to be added to support your EHR or Health IT implementation
- Identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT)
Assess Staff Readiness
EHR implementation should move at an appropriate pace for your staff. You should assess the necessary competencies and resources that are in place before proceeding with EHR implementation.
- Inventory the IT staff to plan for what type of staff and skills you need to support your EHR implementation.
- Understand the attitudes and readiness of your clinical and administrative staff.
Stratis Health Toolkit
Stratis Health has developed a health IT tool kit that provides resources and guidance to Critical Access and Small Hospitals. The following tools have been identified to help you with this step of EHR implementation: [NEED TO DOWNLOAD ALL OF THE PDFs LINKED BELOW SO THEY ARE ACCESSIBLE ON THE NEW SITE]
- Financial Assessment
- Organizational Assessment Readiness Tool
- Financing Resources
- Business Case: Total Cost of Ownership and ROI
- IT System Inventory
- Application Interface Inventory
- Health IT Attitude Assessments
- Staffing Inventory
- Visioning and Strategic Planning Webinar
- Visioning and Strategic Planning Tool
- Goal Setting
- Health IT Project Governance