Advice from the Largest County Mental Health System:
Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health

It goes without saying that implementing new technology is no easy feat. But that doesn’t mean your electronic health record (EHR) implementation has to be a painful experience. Here are 10 tips to help keep your implementations as smooth as possible.

Gathered from staff at all levels across all divisions at the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, this advice applies to any organization preparing for an EHR implementation.

1. Choose a strategic partner

Partner with an EHR provider who understands your organizational needs, is committed to and capable of supporting your roadmap, and proactively works with you to meet the challenges of an evolving healthcare landscape. Use their best practices and expertise to make implementation easier.

2. Conduct workflow analysis

Existing workflows, if not addressed, will become more visible with technology. It’s important to use the implementation as a time to eliminate redundant, time-consuming processes and documentation. By automating your workflows, you decrease the burden of tedious data entry, increase productivity, and improve staff satisfaction.

 3. Take the plunge

Even if your back is used to lugging boxes of paper charts …stop. While a new technology may give you pause, it’s important to immediately start using your EHR to see its benefits. The quicker you make the shift, the easier it will be.

4. Engage all teams

Implementing an EHR affects everyone. Be sure to include representatives from your clinical, financial and operational departments as you discuss workflows, forms and reports that need to be included within the new system.

 5. Organize a go-live support team

Don’t rely solely on pre-training. Enlist a group of “super users” to ensure a smooth transition. These people can be on-site before, during and after an implementation to answer questions and inspire success.

 6. Plan your rollouts strategically

If you have more than one agency implementing the EHR, plan your rollout so it has the greatest chance for success. That may mean deploying the technology all at once or in a staged approach across your agencies. Look to your EHR vendor to help you assess priorities and determine the best strategy to deploy the new system.

 7. Embrace change

Change is never easy. But an engaged team willing to support the change can be the biggest difference to successful adoption. Encourage managers to recognize and celebrate their team’s efforts with prizes, food and other perks.

8. Evaluate trainings

Staff with distinct roles could need specialized training, depending on their workflow and/or data capture requirements. Consider creating separate training manuals and modules to meet these unique needs.

9. Train well and often

Requiring (rather than suggesting) pre-implementation training will arm your staff with the basics before go-live. Having staff work together during the training process gives them the peer support they need to face issues as they arise.

 10.  Stay one step ahead

If your EHR provider offers user conferences, peer groups or webinars about industry trends or user tips, be sure to participate. You can bring those ideas back to your agency and implement them in a way that makes sense for you.

An EHR implementation can be complex. By working with an experienced and strategic technology partner, you can achieve a much smoother implementation, which increases adoption and confidence in the EHR system.