4 lessons for successful adoption of EHRs

The potential for increasing efficacy, quality and safety of healthcare through the implementation of EHRs has made them a primary agenda item for healthcare leaders. However, successful implementation of EHRs is not always easy. Below is a list of four lessons developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality that help establish a set of best practices for the successful integration of technology into clinical practices.

1. Adequate training and support: Do not underestimate the amount of training and support necessary for the successful implementation of EHRs. Successful adoption frequently requires various models of support, including "super-users" (clinicians who are trained and offer support to other physicians and nurses for using EHRs), formal training sessions and 24/7 tech teams.

2. Successful implementation models: An analysis of AHRQ grants have revealed that a "Big Bang" approach, or implementing EHRs across multiple organizations or a single large organization all at once, is the most successful and preferable model of implementation.

3. Development of in-house expertise: Organizations can reduce dependency on outside resources by cultivating a league of experts from within. In doing so, EHRs will be more sustainable, and the cost of hiring consultants, vendors and IT contract services will be reduced.

4. Redesign workflow: It is important to give sufficient attention to the way implementing health IT will impact workflow and organizational culture. The successful integration of EHRs will require significant time and effort analyzing and redesigning clinical workflow.

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