Preparing to implement an EMR system within your practice? Then you’re undoubtedly experiencing some anxiety. After all, it’s quite the change from the pen and pad of paper so many therapists have been using for decades—like, since mullets were cool. And even if you’re starting fresh with a new practice and EMR is all you’ve ever known, the pressure is still on to get this implementation right.
Here are our tips for implementing an EMR with ease:
1. Know Your Needs
Needless to say, you should choose an EMR dedicated to rehab therapy. But you can’t stop there. Putting a finger on the pulse of your practice will help you further eliminate EMRs that don’t meet your needs for documentation, billing, data security, compliance tools, and reporting functionality. Before you pick an EMR, make sure you know your practice’s workflow and identify areas where you can increase efficiency. That way, you choose an EMR that not only enables your workflow, but improves it.
You also should consider your desired terms of service. Some EMRs are only available with long-term contracts, but others allow you the freedom to leave whenever you want—ensuring you receive quality customer service and have the flexibility to switch to another EMR if it winds up being a poor fit or if your needs change.
2. Test Out Technology
Always choose an EMR that fits your practice, not your current technology. If the two are a perfect match, you’re in luck. But if not, you’ll need to make some updates. But buyer beware: while the right technology can set you up for success, the wrong technology can spell disaster.
Depending on the type of EMR you have, your hardware requirements will vary. If you have a server-based EMR, you’ll need a secure server with enough memory to run the system. Otherwise, you’ll likely experience slow loading speeds, freezing, and all-out crashes. You also will have to find someone to install, back up, and maintain the system—and that could mean increasing your clinic’s payroll.
With web-based EMRs (like WebPT) and web-enabled EMRs, you might have to upgrade your computers, tablets, or other electronic devices for ideal performance. To ensure compatibility, check with your EMR company for its latest specifications before buying any hardware. For WebPT-specific hardware recommendations, check out this blog post.
3. Increase Your Internet Speed
Do you feel the need for speed? Well, you should, because you’re going to need a lot of it. Let’s say the Internet connection speed in your current Internet package is 15 Mbps (megabits per second). Sounds like a lot, right? And it is—if you only have one computer. With that setup, 15 Mbps is the maximum achievable speed—not necessarily what you’re getting (especially if your modem and router are old)—and all of that speed is divided out among all of the users in your clinic. If you run your EMR system on several computers—and don’t forget to add in any mobile devices—your data transfer speed suddenly gets shredded down to four or five megabits (or worse).
Every EMR is different, but for web-based and web-enabled EMRs, the faster the speed, the better the user experience for you and your staff. Here at WebPT, we recommend that our users have Internet speeds of at least 1 Mbps upload and 10 Mbps download.
Not sure what Internet speed you have (or worried you’re getting less than what you pay for)? Flash-enabled users can go here to test their connection speeds at no charge.
4. Get Training
You may not need to include your entire staff in the EMR review process, but you’ll want to include them all in the implementation process. Some of your staff might be computer wizards who code for fun, while others may not even know what a web browser is. The point: Everyone has a different comfort level when it comes to technology. To make the most of your EMR investment, you’ll need to thoroughly engage your staff and ensure knowledge retention. Take advantage of the training tools your EMR offers to make sure everyone knows how to use your new documentation system. Look for EMRs that also offer on-demand training resources that cater to a variety of learning styles—like WebPT University, the WebPT Blog, and WebPT’s free monthly webinars. While these extras will never replace quality customer service, they sure come in handy—especially when folks need a quick refresher.
These four tips will certainly help you implement an EMR, but they won’t guarantee success. Ultimately, change happens from the top down, and all the preparation in the world won’t mean a thing if you don’t participate. To achieve a truly successful implementation, you’ll need to lead your practice into this next generation of documentation by demonstrating your own solid commitment to effectively using an EMR. Boldly go where you’ve never gone before, but make sure your staff follows.