The Friday Five – Moving to a New EHR? Five Things to Keep in Mind
Practice Pro is a leading developer of therapy practice management software that helps clients develop more efficient practices, engage effectively with patients and therapists, maximize billing and collections, and access unparalleled insight into their physical therapy practices. The company’s cloud-based EHR and practice management system is a single platform solution offering scheduling, EHR, outcomes, billing and collections, referral management and much more. This week’s Friday Five offers five tried and true tips from Practice Pro’s Chief Financial and Operating Officer, Timothy Moore. While his tips below are presented with physical therapy practices in mind, they can be applied in other practices as well.
Adopting an electronic health records (EHR) for the first time or changing EHRs both require careful planning and coordination to avoid downtime, frustration and lost revenue.
In our 20 years of business, we’ve helped hundreds physical therapy practices successfully make the switch, and we’ve developed a five-point checklist that can help your practice, too. Bear in mind that each practice is different, with varying strengths and weaknesses that will need to be addressed during the transition. But these are the most important facets of a transition that you must consider.
1. Never underestimate required training and employee buy-in.
The change management component of any software change or upgrade is often the most difficult aspect to deal with. Understand that most people are fundamentally opposed to change and will resist. While evaluating software, solicit feedback from other senior leaders and department heads that will be impacted by the change. Getting them on board early can create excitement for the change throughout the organization.
2. Create a game plan for change.
Give your organization sufficient time to create an action plan for the software implementation. Therapists, naturally, will have questions about templates and documentation, while billing staff questions will all be about back end operations. Evaluate each department and question staff about their expectations and the potential challenges of the implementation.
3. Understand what data is (and isn’t) coming over.
You need to understand what data is included in the EHR changeover, what data isn’t and whether your software vendor can assist with this effort. Insurance, patient demographic and physician referral information likely will be included, but financial information and scheduling data may not make the cut—unless you specifically ask. Information is much harder to fix once it’s been moved, so you must plan ahead.
4. Live with two billing systems for awhile.
Billings are the lifeblood of any medical practice, and you don’t want to compromise cash flow. We suggest keeping the old system in place while transitioning to the new billing system. Often, you will need to change clearinghouses, and it may take a few weeks to transition and re-credential your providers. Start putting new charges into the new billing system and watch the transactions closely to ensure you are getting paid promptly and correctly. Once you’ve established electronic relationships with the payers that represent the majority of your business, close out your old billing system, understanding that you may need to work through aging payables manually. We don’t suggest moving billing between EHRs.
5. Make creating new templates a priority.
Your business revolves around your therapists, and you want to keep them happy. In addition to getting early buy in from your therapists, support them by developing new clinical templates as quickly as possible. The ability to customize templates to accommodate the unique working style of each therapist should be a primary consideration of any EHR.
Any change can be difficult, and an EHR migration is no exception. The keys to success include careful planning and getting buy in from employees. If done correctly, a migration will result in a happier and more efficient staff and a better overall experience for your patients.