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  • Writer's pictureMuhammad Sair Khan

Transition to Electronic Health Records

Electronic health records (EHRs) are part of the future for all health providers, including behavioral health facilities. Most facilities and providers currently use EHR systems but most are dated and do not integrate with new technology and functionality.

Digital medical records make it easier for providers to share and gather information about patients instantly, helping patients experience better treatment outcomes. With the use of an EHR, your facility can have your patient’s full health history upon intake, helping you design a personalized treatment plan that accounts for all aspects of their health.

However, making the switch to an EHR isn’t easy. It’s a big initial investment of both time and money. Luckily, these investments are only temporary. As your staff becomes accustomed to using the EHR, you’ll find it speeds up the billing process while reducing the costs associated with file storage, transcription costs, and medical errors.

Update your EHR by following these steps:

Ready Your IT Infrastructure

First, you’ll need to ensure you have the right equipment, software, and secure network for your EHR. You’ll rely heavily on your in-house IT team, your EHR vendor, or even a specialty IT company during this time. You'll need to perform a HIPAA risk assessment, buy new printers or monitors, or even invest in rolling carts for laptops. Having the right equipment can make using the EHR easier on your entire staff.

Develop Plans and Procedures

A smooth EHR rollout requires careful planning. You’ll need to create plans and procedures like:

  • An implementation schedule

  • Procedures for when the EHR is down

  • Staff training plan and schedule

  • Workflow procedures for each type of patient visit

Having these plans in place can guide you through the transition process and smoothly and efficiently. Click here to download a telehealth guide.

Train Your Staff

Your staff, including all physicians, nurses, and technicians, need to be trained in how to use the EHR. It can be helpful to appoint certain staff members as transition leaders. These leaders should have in-depth training and a firm grasp of how to use the EHR so they can advise others.

To allow for training time, you should consider reducing your patient load by 25 percent or more during the first two weeks of your EHR rollout. This slight slowdown allows staff the time they need to get used to the new system.

Input Patient Data

If your facility has been open for years, you may have hundreds or thousands of existing patient files that need uploaded into the new system. The good news is that if you have been using a billing software system, you may be able to use patient data from that system to perform a bulk upload of files into your new EHR.

By linking your new EHR and your billing system, it will be easier to add new patients and edit files in the future. You’ll be able to input the new data in one system and have it updated in both. If you outsource your billing, ensure your third-party biller has signed a business associate agreement.

With your existing patients, it will be a slow transition from their paper chart to digital. After your EHR is live, you’ll need to treat them like new patients and gather summary data for the EHR. You can also scan in parts of their paper chart to the EHR. Once you have all the information you need, you can retire the paper chart completely. You can work on retiring patient paper charts in phases, so it isn’t overwhelming.

Once you are comfortable with your EHR, you can explore new ways to use technology to maximize your revenue. Download our Providers’ Guide and learn how to implement telehealth services into your facility.

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