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EHR implementation offers wide margins for error, but it's worth it

By Brita Van Fossen, Editorial Assistant

Although there are a significant number of clinical practices that are still selecting a suitable electronic health record (EHR) system, there are also many that have finished the grueling process and are now tackling the next hurdle — EHR implementation itself.

The benefits to be gleaned from EHR implementation, from government incentives to ever-important improved care quality at a lower price, are enough to outweigh the substantial amount of time and energy that has been invested, and will continue to be invested, in the nation-wide transition to electronic health data transmission.

While EHR selection is a crucial step — given that ease of use and acclimation with the system depend largely upon choosing an intuitive EHR system — training clinical staff and care providers and making sure they have adapted to the new system is key to determining EHR efficiency.

Achieving heightened care quality requires preparation prior to the EHR implementation, as well as a substantial dedication of time to training and acclimating employees to the new data entry system. Given the nature of the technology and the inherent adjustment period when getting used to a new routine, there is a lot of room for error. It is important for employees to become comfortable with the system and to double check their entries, to avoid overlooking misrepresentations or clinical mistakes.

Despite the potential for error, some clinical practices have experienced great success after getting through the initial struggle with EHR training and acclimation. Christopher Tashjian, M.D., president of River Falls, Ellsworth and Spring Valley Medical Clinics in western Wisconsin, said his transition to EHR efficiency with his clinics has led to more seamless practice. His lessons can serve as a template for others looking to implement EHRs.

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