Updated April 5, 2018
As healthcare continues to move forward into the future at an exponential rate, it can be challenging to keep up while simultaneously providing your patients with the best care possible. Achieving success and overcoming obstacles requires innovative solutions that help you navigate through the muddy waters of value-based care and changing federal requirements.
Now more than ever, it is important to not only keep up with the changes but also think ahead to “what’s next?” and how a healthcare IT vendor can help you along the way. Many healthcare IT solution companies compete for your business, yet not all electronic medical records (EMR) systems are created equal. If the goal is to streamline and improve the entire patient experience while making sure you are in compliance, then implementing the best ophthalmology software for your practice is certainly a critical decision.
You may think that the last thing you need is new challenges presented by implementing new ophthalmology software systems into your practice. If you’re skeptical, think about when smartphones were first introduced. You were probably a bit leery to part ways with your flip-phone or PDA (may they rest in peace). Now consider how smartphones have made life more convenient for you while simultaneously serving as your own personal assistant. It is nearly impossible to imagine life without your smartphone. As with anything new, there is a learning curve and with change often comes resistance – which is natural and to be expected. It’s all in how you handle it, which is what I will help address in the rest of this article
There are ways to help ensure the implementation process with your new ophthalmology EMR system goes as smoothly as possible. With over a decade of experience working in ophthalmology practices alongside clinicians, and now as the Training Manager of Clinical Services, I’ve put together some of the top tips and considerations that you can use when it comes to implementing an EMR system for your ophthalmology practice. My goal is that after reading this, you will see there is nothing to be afraid of – and much more to be excited about!
1. Establish and Maintain Short-Term and Long-Term Goals
Setting and sharing goals reigns true when it comes to EMR implementation. This perhaps is probably the most important tip when it comes to the planning stage. You will want to define and set your goals while creating a clear path to reaching those targets. Making sure your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound (SMART) will go a long way toward helping you enjoy long-term success with your ophthalmology software and your EMR vendor.
Determine how to measure your success in regards to your implementation goals. Make sure your measurements directly relate to your goals, or you will risk becoming distracted or side-tracked. The last thing you want to do is lose focus when planning your new software implementation. Select your internal team to help in this process.
2. Choose the Right Ophthalmology EMR Vendor and Software
Now that you’ve established your goals and measurement metrics, it’s time to find the best ophthalmology EMR software to meet your targets. But how do you know which one is the right one for you?
For starters, you will want an ophthalmology software system that was built for value-based care, can fully meet and adhere to the complexities of modern healthcare compliance and be ready for impending changes.
The industry has transitioned to cloud-based platforms (versus servers), and your practice should take that into consideration as well. The mobility and freedom of cloud-based ophthalmology software enables you to manage your practice from virtually anywhere and at any time. It’s certainly a benefit to have added mobility if an urgent staff or patient situation arises and you’re away from the office.
Also, consider whether the software will automatically adapt to you and your style of practice. For example, Modernizing Medicine provides an intuitive ophthalmic EMR system, known as EMA™, that adapts to how you practice and learns how to “think” like you do with its adaptive learning engine. It can even automatically generate notes for you before the patient leaves the exam room! It recommends common treatment methods, and with EMA Grand Rounds™, it can be used to help identify common prescriptions used based on a diagnosis and aid in treating rare cases. This is the way our Popular Plans menu works in EMA.
Here at Modernizing Medicine, we have a staff of practicing physicians who work alongside developers to help build the software so it reflects your specific ophthalmology workflow.
One of the highlights about Modernizing Medicine is our dedicated training and implementation teams. Unlike many companies who have an IT team to train clients, our team has real-world clinical experience in ophthalmology practices. They will be available through every step of the implementation process to ensure the smoothest transition possible while being ready to answer any questions you may have.
When it comes to implementation, an ophthalmology EMR system is only as good as the vendor’s commitment to providing you with support when you need it most.
3. Keep the Implementation Process and Progress Transparent
Assemble your staff or team before beginning the implementation to have an open discussion about how these new changes (and challenges) will affect your practice. By helping team members understand the obstacles you want to address with this new solution and by sharing the goals, you can help increase buy-in from your staff.
It can be difficult and stressful for any staff member to adjust to new ways. The best way to deal with the adversity is to keep an open dialogue and have an “open door policy.” As with many things in life, it’s all about relationships. Make them a part of the team during implementation, and they will better understand how their specific roles will impact the new EMR system’s success.
4. Keep Management in the Loop
Make sure your leadership team and/or partners stay informed to help ease any concerns they may have and give opportunities to ask questions along the way. Have regularly scheduled status updates, so they too can understand and see the implementation process progressing.
There will be times when the project management team at your office will need to communicate with physicians or upper management throughout the implementation of the new ophthalmology EMR software. Keeping management in the loop will also ensure the whole team feels confident in the vendor and software selected. Your vendor should be an extension of your team and help to answer questions about the implementation process.
5. Identify Super Users
Based on experience, you will definitely notice individuals at your ophthalmology practice who really excel and may catch on more quickly than others. I would recommend encouraging these “super” users to reach out and help educate other members of your staff who need a little extra help. Collaboration between your vendor’s training and implementation team and your staff is a crucial component.
6. Running Your Ophthalmology Practice During Implementation
During the implementation and training process, openly discuss what will work best for your team to ensure training is efficient while continuing to run your practice. For some practices, this may mean temporarily decreasing patient load, which could lead to a more efficient implementation and in the long term, put you in a better financial position. In a few weeks’ time, everything should be running a lot smoother than you had originally anticipated, and your ophthalmology EMR system should benefit all aspects of your practice.
Additionally, when you’re making such an impactful decision and investing key resources, it is important to speak with clients who have gone through such a process and are currently using the EMR system. I did want to share just a couple of the quotes from current ophthalmology clients when it comes to the implementation process with their new EMR system, EMA.
“Once I decided on EMA the implementation was a smooth process. My staff and I went through a six-week online training period and we found it very easy to learn. I was able to see my very first patient at my new practice using EMA and quickly increased my patient volume with its help.”
“There is no question that EMA has raised the bar for EMR systems. Since implementation, we have increased productivity and EMA has made us more efficient.”
At the end of the day, you want to utilize an ophthalmology vendor that is ready to help you at every step of the way, so you can get back to taking care of your patients with a more freedom and flexibility with the best ophthalmology EMR system for your practice.