Eligible physicians are dropping out of the HITECH incentive program. Why? Often, it’s because a practice implements an EHR and then tries to mimic all their old paper processes and workflows.

That can get them through the vendor’s initial implementation, but it is not sustainable for the long term.

Workflows and operational processes must be modified to optimize the new tool. Technology changes what is feasible, and to adapt, we need to change what we do every day.

To get the most out of your EHR, adopt these seven Golden Rules:

1. Include the nursing staff! The EHR is not all about the physician! Physicians are the owners or the leaders or the key decision makers but they are not the exclusive users of the EHR. In fact, nurses account for about 75% of the use of the chart, and a successful EHR implementation focuses on how the nurse can assist the physician in the integration of the EHR into clinical workflow. Too often, an EHR committee is created in a medical practice with no nursing representative. Bring in the nurses!

2. Schedule MORE training specific to process, not just how to fill in a screen. Schedule time outside of office hours for you and your staff to get on the EHR and actually walk through the tasks you perform each day with an eye to how to minimize the number of touches to accomplish each task. That means it will cost you overtime, or lost productivity if you close office hours, so budget accordingly. The additional training costs will help your investment in the EHR pay off in the end.

3. Anticipate the stress and effort required over several months. The adoption of technology is an iterative process. The EHRs are full of features and functions that will bring efficiency to your operations but it is impossible to take advantage of it all in the first two months of your go-live. Typically, groups will be in the learning and adoption transition for about a year. Be prepared for the long haul!

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