Five Reasons to Partner with an EHR Consulting Firm

External EHR Consulting

As healthcare organizations aim to effectively rollout, optimize, and manage electronic health record (EHR) systems, partnering with an experienced external consulting and training firm can be invaluable. During major initiatives like EHR implementations, upgrades, or transitions, leadership must ensure their staff is thoroughly trained while minimizing disruptions to clinical workflows. However, most IT departments are stretched thin handling daily operations and often lack specialized expertise to properly execute large-scale EHR projects. By working closely with a trusted EHR consulting partner, CIOs and IT executives can supplement their team with professionals who have guided healthcare facilities through countless EHR rollouts, upgrades, and transitions. These consultants offer hands-on experience to help avoid pitfalls and drive adoption. Whether implementing a new EHR or optimizing an existing system, partnering with external experts enables healthcare IT leaders to keep initiatives on track while focusing on realizing process improvements and supporting excellent patient care.

Below are 5 key reasons healthcare CIOs and IT leaders should consider working with a qualified EHR consulting partner:

1. Leverage proven EHR implementation methodology.

Healthcare is a unique industry with its own intricacies and complexities that most IT consultants simply do not understand. Be sure to partner with a firm that has an established methodology specifically for EHR Go-Lives. They should incorporate industry best practices into a step-by-step implementation playbook to keep your project on track. The right EHR consultants act as an extension of your team, seamlessly integrating with your culture.

2. Gain access to specialized EHR expertise.

EHR systems involve an array of components and configurations to operationalize the technology and tailor it to your workflows. From system interfaces to security setups, desktop virtualization to order set build, and everything in between, there are countless details that can make or break an implementation. Experienced consultants have guided healthcare clients through these nuances time and again. They bring deep expertise spanning clinical, operational, technical and change management domains. Consultants versed in change management techniques can help assess organizational readiness for an EHR transition and develop strategies to drive staff adoption. Combining this change expertise with hands-on EHR knowledge is invaluable for navigating the hurdles of EHR initiatives.

3. Ensure effective training and adoption.

The success of any EHR implementation or upgrade ultimately depends on widespread acceptance and active utilization of the new system by end users like physicians, nurses, and staff. However, quality training is often an afterthought or entirely overlooked by healthcare IT departments during EHR rollouts. This results in lackluster adoption, frustrated users, and failure to achieve desired outcomes. Be sure to work with an external EHR training firm that can properly prepare your staff to use the new system. Look for a firm with proven experience developing role-based training materials and delivering customized training programs tailored to different audiences. Training should include classroom-style sessions to build general knowledge, followed by at-the-elbow support at end users' desk sides for hands-on reinforcement. Experienced consultants utilize varied training techniques like visual guides, online learning, train-the-trainer, and simulations to drive retention and usage. They also provide guidance on change management strategies to reinforce new EHR workflows. With the right training approach delivered by qualified consultants, your clinicians, nurses, and staff will be fully prepared, confident, and eager to leverage the improved EHR system. This drives successful adoption and positions the organization to realize the full benefits.

4. Supplement IT staffing needs.

Major EHR initiatives require ample internal and external resources to handle the myriad of tasks involved in rolling out an enterprise-wide system. An EHR implementation or upgrade touches nearly every department and will fundamentally transform workflows and processes organization-wide. Juggling these expansive projects while simultaneously keeping other critical hospital systems running is extremely difficult for most IT departments. They simply do not have the bandwidth and personnel to take on EHR initiatives of this scale alone. Experienced consulting firms can provide supplementary skilled IT staff and project managers to fill resource gaps. This includes EHR analysts to optimize build and configuration, interface engineers, clinical informaticists, PharmDs to develop order sets, training specialists, go-live support teams, and more. Augmenting your IT staff with consultants allows you to scale up for the EHR initiative while maintaining focus on daily operations like network availability, help desk coverage, cybersecurity, managing other systems, and supporting end users. It provides the additional personnel power needed to implement or upgrade an EHR successfully without compromising existing IT services.

5. Transfer knowledge for self-sufficiency.

While consultants provide temporary resources, a good partner will aim to fully transfer EHR knowledge to your permanent IT staff through thorough documentation and education. They should take an intentful approach to knowledge transfer so your team is equipped to independently support and optimize the new system after the consulting engagement ends. Knowledge transfer starts early and continues throughout the project. Consultants should actively involve your IT staff in planning sessions and design workshops to share expertise and decision rationale. They should also provide system documentation explaining key build decisions, configurations, workflows, customizations, and troubleshooting tips. Most importantly, consultants must deliver comprehensive admin training and create an EHR support playbook tailored to your new system and processes. With proper knowledge transfer, your expanded IT team will have acquired the EHR skills needed to sustain outcomes and continue driving value long after the consultants have departed. This enables you to be self-sufficient with the new technology.

Implementing, upgrading, or optimizing an electronic health record system is a massive challenge for any healthcare organization. Attempting to execute major EHR initiatives with only internal resources is rife with risks and obstacles. By partnering with an experienced external consulting and training firm, IT leadership can supplement their team with specialized expertise and breadth of experience. This greatly increases the likelihood of a successful project that realizes process improvements and improved patient care. While consultants provide temporary resources, they also enable the permanent IT staff to acquire new skills and knowledge to support the optimized EHR long-term. With the right consultant partner, hospitals and health systems can turn EHR changeovers and enhancements into opportunities rather than dreaded undertakings. The key is finding a firm, like Healthcare IT Leaders, that becomes an integrated extension of your IT team to make the initiative as smooth and painless as possible. With our guidance, your organization will be well positioned to maximize and sustain the benefits of an EHR that fully supports top-quality care delivery.