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January 17, 2018 Article 1 min read
Electronic health records offer advantages healthcare organizations need if they want to stay viable. But few providers realize the full potential of their EHR technology. These transformational steps can help ensure you maximize EHR adoption at your organization.

A doctor discussing a patients health chart on a tablet with two nurses.The past decade has seen a proliferation of electronic health record (EHR) technology. Healthcare organizations have made significant health information technology (HIT) investments of capital and operational expense, resources, and time. They’ve done this for many reasons, including to satisfy regulatory requirements, demonstrate meaningful use, comply with HIPAA, and share information through a health information exchange (HIE).

In addition, providers have invested and implemented HIT to realize the great promise: increased efficiency, staff reduction, improved physician satisfaction, better health outcomes and continuity of care, and decreased care costs.

The drive to realize these benefits is necessary for health systems that want to position their organizations to remain viable and succeed in today's fast-evolving healthcare environment. And yet, most organizations haven’t seen the full breadth and depth of promised improvements with their EHR technology.

What's getting in the way?

There are many obstacles on the road to maximizing EHR adoption. Changes in payment methodologies, service delivery models, consumer engagement, and regulatory requirements all demand that providers change their approach for EHR to deliver a real return on investment. You can’t trust the software vendor to drive EHR benefits realization. The implementation process must be orchestrated in tune with your strategic business plan and customized to facilitate your operations.

You cannot trust the software vendor to drive EHR benefits realization.

In addition to technical and funding issues, other broader organizational issues such as legal and policy, clinical, business and technical operations, universal workflows, maintenance and support and, most importantly, governance, all play a role in maximizing EHR adoption. In fact, these fundamental elements can galvanize nearly all EHR efforts, regardless of the particular product, to help realize latent potential.

Transformational steps to realize EHR benefits

Providers will have to work through the proper execution of the following seven transformational steps to maximizing EHR adoption and drive long-term success:

  1. Provide adequate and effective EHR governance with active participation from all user constituents.
  2. Develop an EHR funding model that incorporates the total cost of ownership and allowances for unanticipated costs associated with conversion revenue cycle issues, additional vendor fees for new modules or other technology requirements, and resource requirements.
  3. Update EHR policies and procedures to support EHR workflows, functional and regulatory processes , the sharing of protected health information (PHI), and to meet PHI and HIE regulatory guidelines.
  4. Define, assess, and test the technical infrastructure requirements with the EHR vendor.
  5. Assess, consolidate, refine, and standardize clinical, business, and technical operations into universal workflows, and thoroughly vet these operations across the organization to stimulate end-user engagement.
  6. Assess EHR security, HIPAA and HITRUST requirements. For any deficiencies identified, develop and execute a corrective action plan to address them.
  7. Create a maintenance and support model in concert with your EHR implementation, and ensure the model is fully developed and in place at EHR activation.

These seven transformational steps aren't quick-hits; they'll take planning and time. But the return will be worthwhile, helping your organization maximize electronic health record adoption and make it a useful and effective clinical and business technology that supports the organization’s strategic initiatives.