The government wants the healthcare industry to adopt electronic health records and businesses have been given a 2014 deadline. For those who are unable to comply by the deadline, certain penalties will be implemented. In order to successfully complete such a massive undertaking, an EHR implementation timeline should be created to help track progress. The following is one such example, based on a 12-month timeline, though yours may differ.
EHR Implementation Months 1 and 2
The first several months have many steps, but don't require much time to implement. Most importantly, it's here that your organization identify what steps need to be implemented, establish a timeline, and decide on the vendors and team members that will be in charge of the many facets involved in the EHR implementation timeline. You'll also need to identify what sorts of needs your particular patients will have and what records your site keeps.
EHR Implementation Months 3 through 6
The four months following the identification stage are some of the busiest, because it involves the installation, customization and testing phases of the system. It starts with the EHR vendor installing the necessary software and hardware. This is also the proper time to test network security so as to avoid potentially costly liability issues down the road. Once installed, key staff who will be working on the system must be trained on software use and how records will be efficiently converted. Once software familiarity has been achieved, your next step is to customize the software to meet the requirements for the type of service you provide. Finally, everything has to be tested. This is not the time to hold back, and testing will be a labor-intensive process to ensure you're testing for all contingencies.
EHR Implementation Months 7 through 12
The final half of the year involves transferring of records into the new system. If you haven't done so already, the rest of your staff should be brought into the fold and trained. The transition will be fraught with new issues you haven't planned for and consumer education will require strong customer support. As you complete the transition, make sure to have close communication with your EHR vendor in case troubleshooting is required.
This EHR implementation timeline is meant to serve as an example only. Your location should design its own version based on its strengths and resources. Depending on the size, you may require more or less time to sufficiently demonstrate "meaningful use" by 2015.
Images courtesy of Juhansonin