December 29, 2015 Ask Owen

How to Make Your EHR Replacement Project Successful

The EHR selection is a daunting challenge, but it pales in comparison to EHR replacement technology because of what is an stake which in many cases entails repairing an expensive error the first go-around.

Replacing EHR technology is a reality for healthcare organizations and providers unable to work with the limitations of their current EHR platform to achieve organizational goals or satisfy regulatory requirements. And industry experts are anticipating an upcoming wave of EHR replacement as a result of the shift to value-based care and reimbursement and clinical integration needs.

According to Mark Hess of Stoltenberg Consulting Group, the key attributes necessary for EHR replacement success are diligence and patience. The Senior Vice President of Strategic Accounts has spent much of the last two years engaging with providers seeking advice about how to avoid the mistakes of the initial EHR selection.

“For us, the question from the executive team is consistently: How are we sure this time that we won’t be talking to you again in two to three years to have to make a decision yet again?” he tells

For some, the process of replacing EHR technology begins with recognizing a loss — that is, of precious financial resources. The case may be that an organization is till footing the bill for the previous EHR technology while seeking new capital or accruing new debt in the hopes of finding the right EHR replacement, claims Hess.

The process itself can very well come imbued with feelings of doubt and anxiety.

“During this time of significant change, our clients need help when looking to the future, the options, helping get transparency with the option — what is real and what is not — and they need to know that upfront,” Hess explains. “They are very concerned because of their last buy that maybe they missed something in the process that was very critical today and  that they want to make sure that they have all of the information necessary to make this decision last.”

Slow and steady wins the race

Pressure is clearly on providers to move swiftly with EHR implementations to ensure eligibility for incentives or maintain compliance with federal and state mandates. However, letting those forces drive an EHR replacement can easily lead to mistakes.

For Hess and Stoltenberg, the process begins with exercising caution and advocating for an extended EHR replacement process.

“We take a little more time — six months — and what we do in that timeframe is to put forward an objective process,” he says. “When we go into these kinds of events, there is a natural bias towards a direction. When we have those clients who ask us for a 90-day process on a significant decision — a $40- to $50-million decision — that bias is actually something in the past that affected the way they thought before.”

The added show of restraint allows room for organizations to realize several benefits. One is greater objectivity.

“Optimally, if we can get them down this road, we see the biases become diluted, they become more objective, and many times they’ll come up with a very different decision than they would’ve had they gone the 90-day or quick-turn process,” states Hess.

“And the diligence of walking them through a dozen steps before even considering which solution is best for them,” he continues, ” by having corporate site visits, by having several rounds of demos, they come to a different way of thinking about how to make a decision. It’s more global and enterprise-wide, more strategic in nature, less biased, and really what’s best for the organization.”

Additionally, it provides the opportunity to build consensus. “They have a nice way as a group coming to a consensus. Each of the executives comes with their own set of answers and through collaboration, they get to a better result,” notes Hess.

And finally the process benefits the actual EHR implementation following the selection of the EHR replacement technology:

“The best part of this is the implementation goes more smoothly,” Hess argues. “When they have this collaborative approach, they are all bought in before it even starts. We’re seeing better results through the implementation cycle, through the optimization cycle. The executive team doesn’t tear and that cycles all the way down to the end-users.”

This article originally appeared here.

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