Learn the best practices for a smooth chiropractic EHR implementation in this free ebook!
Healthcare records are among the many pillars of successful chiropractic practices. Due to their importance and ability to seamlessly integrate with IT systems, learning how to successfully navigate your electronic health record (EHR) implementation is vital to its success.
This guide outlines how to navigate implementation, including what chiropractors should be thinking of and the best practices for achieving those goals correctly the first time, with few to no issues.
What Is EHR Implementation?
EHR implementation is a set of strategies and steps that chiropractic practices use when preparing for and going live with an EHR system. EHR plan content and formats vary depending on the practice’s needs and execution. However, it typically incorporates the following:
- Cost estimates
- Distribution of team responsibilities and labor
- Hardware and software update information
- Workflow changes
Reminder, EHR implementation takes time, but it’s well worth the efforts regarding improving your practice’s efficiency and patient outcomes. EHR implementation’s ultimate goal is to provide organized and specific plans to account for the many factors and related decisions contributing to using this software.
Understanding the Length of Chiropractic EHR Implementation
When planning for a chiropractic EHR implementation, one of the most frequent questions coming up during this process is, “how long is this going to take?” You can expect that question to come up as teams align their schedules, forecast for potential issues, plan for training, and make other plans for the implementation.
One essential thing to keep in mind is that there’s no standard timeline for chiropractic EHR implementation. While no one likes hearing this answer because time is money, it’s one that we have to accept. The main reason is that this timeline varies depending on several factors.
You can create a rough timeline ranging between sixteen and twenty-four months. But keep in mind, it’ll depend on several factors. Here are a few examples of what can impact your implementation’s timeline:
- This size of your chiropractic practice
- The complexity of the EHR system that you want to install
- Onboarding and training staff
- The features that your practice needs
- If you’re operating in the cloud
It’s possible to determine your timeline with greater accuracy if you assign a team that’ll remain consistent throughout the entire process, who won’t be rushing things and can identify the needed resources. You’ll also save a considerable amount of time by cleaning up your data before attempting to complete a transfer.
Develop a Chiropractic EHR Checklist for Implementation
Implementing a high-quality chiropractic EHR can help streamline your practice’s workflow and reduce how much time your staff spends on back-office tasks. Besides helping your practice manage meticulous records, these systems can give providers access to a patient’s complete health record.
Before implementation can occur, though, you must curate a list of “must-have” features, along with a step-by-step approach for how to implement the software and any tools and resources that you’ll need along the way. Here, we outline several features that you should look for when evaluating your chiropractic EHR.
- Decide on must-have features: Spend time thinking about what features the EHR must have to ensure a smooth transition and use. These could include streamlined systems for setting up staff accounts, records import, pre-loaded forms, etc.
- Have a separate staff training checklist: As with all new systems, staff training is critical for successful implementation. The training checklist should include a training timeline, user skill level assessments, style of instruction, and training locations, among other things.
- Schedule time for training sessions: After identifying the training process and what it should include, it’s time to set up times for training sessions.
- Identify who is already proficient: Your staff may include one or more “super users” already proficient with the EHR that you want to implement. Identify who they are and how they can act as peer experts to assist during training sessions.
- Recruit trainers: Select a high-quality EHR vendor that’s ready to make their team available to you and your staff for further questions and as a reference during and following implementation.
Steps for Successful Chiropractic EHR Implementation
Successfully implementing chiropractic EHR can be challenging. So, it’s beneficial to use a step-by-step approach and follow best practices when learning how to successfully navigate your EHR implementation. This section outlines why these best practices are essential and the steps that you should follow.
But first, let’s look at the best practice:
- If your staff members currently use a paper-based system, you’ll need to identify their computer proficiency and determine who needs training to get them up to speed.
- Training should only include the features that your staff is going to use. Remember, not everyone needs to know all the features.
- After the implementation is complete, conduct feedback sessions to identify issues and develop an action plan for addressing them.
- Use materials and resources provided by the vendor to answer questions, receive tips, and follow instructions.
Now, let’s look at the path that you’ll need to follow to successfully implement your chiropractic EHR. Some call this a checklist; others call it a roadmap outlining what you need to do and when.
Step One: Develop a plan
Implementation can’t happen without a well-thought-out and strategic plan. It should outline every process and task that your staff needs to follow and complete. Here are examples of what you could include:
- Assemble a team.
- Forecast expected costs and develop a budget.
- Create a risk mitigation plan for data transfers.
- Develop staff training procedures.
- Create a rough draft of the implementation’s schedule to edit and finalize during planning.
- Conduct testing during “go live” practice sessions.
- Outline “go live” processes and activities.
- Identify evaluation strategies and risk assessment strategies.
There are several ways to approach organizing and executing your plan. You may have protocols already in place for workflows. However, if you don’t, tools like ClickUp and Trello are excellent project management tools. Use tools like these to plot calendars, create checklists, assign tasks, and develop manageable workflows.
Step Two: Assign tasks to staff members
Once you assemble the team responsible for handling the implementation, it’s time to assign specific tasks to each member. Use your predefined schedule and budget to execute each task. Determining which tasks to assign might look something like this:
- Following staff training, assess the practice’s readiness for the implementation.
- Prepare your staff for upcoming changes, and create contingency plans for overcoming potential obstacles.
- Review implementation goals, and determine who is responsible for what and when.
- Determine who is responsible for managing the project’s budget and timeline.
- Create a communication plan and a strategy for documenting tasks.
- Identify tools for managing workflows and processes.
- Outline expectations for identifying, examining, and improving processes and workflows
- Determine who is responsible for identifying and managing functional and technical requirements.
- Assign one or more members of the team to handle data transfers.
How many people and how many tasks you assign depend on your practice’s size and the project’s overall budget. For example, you may have one project manager responsible for planning, scheduling, training management, testing, identifying go-live activities, and evaluating. In turn, they may look for proficient staff members to delegate specific tasks throughout the process.
Step Three: Determine your overall budget for this project
Once you have your team assembled, a plan created, and tasks ready to assign, it’s time to look at the cost of your chiropractic EHR implementation. Your goal here is to forecast costs and create a well-defined budget to prevent unexpected costs from derailing the entire project.
Your budget should account for the following costs:
- Hardware upgrades
- Network upgrades
- Temporary productivity losses
- Training fees
- Vendor customizations
Not all chiropractic EHR implementation training comes with a cost. For example, CHIROSPRING includes training in its overall cost, including between four and six hours of live training. Users also receive access to training videos and the company’s 24/7 help center. CHIROSPRING bundles data backups and storage into its overall price.
Step Four: Complete system configuration
You’ll need to collaborate with the vendor to ensure that configuration meets the appropriate security measures. That might involve completing a HIPAA assessment and customizing the EHR software to optimize workflows. Here are a couple of tips to consider during configuration and customization:
- Create a list of elements that your practice extensively uses that might need configuration, including medication management settings, patient history settings, billing codes, etc.
- Determine which document templates and other documentation processes your practice currently uses that need to be configured to the new EHR.
System configuration also includes setting up protocols for data migration. These might include tasks such as:
- Converting paper documents and records to digital
- Cleansing and verifying data
- Cleaning up the EHR database following configuration and migration
- Completing additional data transfers
- Testing and verification of configurations and migrations
Step Five: Optimize staff workflows
Optimizing your chiropractic practice’s staff workflows involves asking the following questions:
- Is it required?
- Is this workflow valuable for patient care?
- Are workflows happening in the correct order and by the right staff member?
Optimizing staff workflows might also involve asking questions about the provider, including the following examples:
- Does this workflow require medical skills or training?
- If medical skills or training isn’t required, who else can complete this workflow?
Ideally, it would help if you optimized workflows before implementation begins. That way, you can ensure the likelihood of a smooth transition and mitigate the risks of issues or inefficiencies before they happen.
Step Six: Start training within a few weeks of going live
No matter how high-quality the EHR solution you choose is, it won’t be helpful if your staff doesn’t receive adequate training. Several factors can impact training, including:
- Your practice’s current and forecasted workflows
- If staff member roles change
- Your staff’s preferences regarding engaging with the new system
You can take many approaches for how you choose to train your staff and bring them up to speed. However, it’s optimal to start training within a few weeks before going live. That way, there’s a great chance of them retaining the information.
Training within a few weeks of going live also ensures that the new processes and workflows are fresh in your staff’s minds. Since your staff must interact with EHR systems regularly, they will look for the most efficient way to use the new system. Two of the most common training methods are:
- On-site: This form of training is comprehensive, instructor-led, and in-person, where staff receives one-on-one sessions with an experienced instructor. This type of training is optimal for large practices.
- Self-paced: This form of training is affordable and straightforward, whereby users read manuals and watch instructional videos. This type of training is optimal for small practices.
Step Seven: Complete troubleshooting and risk mitigation
Since EHR contains many nuances, you must prepare for risk mitigation and troubleshooting. Like any update or upgrade where data transfers and new processes are put into place, there’s a certain level of risk. Here are a few suggestions for mitigating risks and protecting your practice against implementation issues:
- Conduct an honest assessment of your practice before beginning the implementation: One of the most significant parts of a successful EHR implementation is conducting an honest assessment of your chiropractic practice’s current capabilities, finances, and workflows. This assessment enables your implementation team to develop and track metrics for successfully rolling out the new system.
- Choose a user-friendly interface: Don’t forget that if your system isn’t user-friendly, it can quickly hinder your chiropractic practice’s operations. That’s why choosing a system that’s simple to learn and intuitive benefits your entire staff. Taking this step mitigates transition issues and increases everyone’s ability to troubleshoot problems as they arise.
- Keep your staff informed: An excellent way to ensure that your staff is ready to adopt the new system is by maintaining constant communication with them. Ask them questions, including if they believe that the new interface is user-friendly, if they feel that they’re receiving enough training, and what their preferred workflow entails. Maintaining communication provides valuable insights regarding adoption, issues that arise, and action plans for solving problems.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Chiropractic EHR Implementation
Chiropractic EHR implementation is a massive undertaking requiring specific skill sets, including change management, technical expertise, and risk management. The last thing that any practice wants to deal with is hitting snags throughout the process, hence the importance of knowing the do’s and don’ts of successfully implementing chiropractic EHR.
Knowing these ahead of time allows you to make adjustments as needed when navigating the process. Here’s a breakdown.
There’s no such thing as starting plans too early. For example, devising implementation plans should begin as soon as possible if you plan to go live within the following year. Your plans should also factor in whether you want the implementation to happen using a “big bang” approach or if you want to take an incremental approach.
Communicate priorities to the IT team
Your IT team should prioritize the implementation, but do remember that they need to address other help tickets coming in. Your IT team must also manage maintenance and other projects before, during, and after the implementation is complete. Communicating priorities helps keep everyone on track and manage expectations.
Manage your team’s hours implementing the EHR alongside their current workload
Since implementation doesn’t happen overnight, it’s your responsibility to keep an eye on the team that you appoint. This involves keeping track of:
- How many hours they’re working on the implementation
- How many hours they must commit to other tasks outside of the implementation
- If they’re experiencing burnout
- If they’re happy, healthy, and enthusiastic about going live
Don’t rush the implementation process
Rushing the implementation process could result in poor training, data transfer issues, and other problems. Instead, before training and implementation begin, be transparent with your staff regarding timelines, short-term goals, and long-term goals. That way, there’s structure, opportunities for feedback, and time for your staff to acclimate to the recent changes.
Don’t forget to plan for potential failure (have a backup plan ready to go)
As with any new system integration, implementation, or upgrade, you must plan for glitches. Planning for potential failures involves brainstorming issues that may arise and developing a contingency plan for addressing them. Ideally, you’ll want to devise procedures with clear instructions for the steps that the team should take if they can’t access the EHR system.
The Benefits of EHR Implementation
Chiropractic EHR implementation is beneficial for several reasons, including improving patient care and simplifying administrative tasks. In addition to helping practices save time and money, EHR solutions help them stay competitive.
Think of chiropractic EHR as more than a system to replace paper documents. It also enables providers to have more face-to-face time with patients. Integrating CHIROSPRING’s all-in-one practice management and EHR system into a chiropractic practice can reduce backups, data storage, and data security concerns.
Here are additional benefits of implementation.
Optimized day-to-day workflows
A chiropractic EHR system enables providers to have up-to-date data at their fingertips at a moment’s notice, no matter their location. This type of data access helps optimize daily workflows because it eliminates the guesswork caused by incomplete records and indecipherable handwriting on paper documents.
These systems also connect directly to other locations, enabling providers to access the data that they need to create patient care plans and make diagnoses. These systems also enable patients to book appointments online and complete their intake paperwork from home. Such features optimize workflows because in addition to them not having to be in the office until it’s time for their appointment, the information that they enter automatically populates to a SOAP note.
The patient dashboard also has all the information that you need from when the appointment with the patient starts to when they check out. The tile systems make for easy navigation, organization, and customization. Since users will need to access different information more often, providers can customize and arrange their dashboards and improve workflows.
Enhanced communication among multi-location practices
There’s nothing more frustrating than managing multiple locations using paper-based systems. You’re chasing files, inputting data more than once, and increasing risks for errors. Implementing an EHR designed specifically for chiropractors, one that supports multi-location practices, solves that issue and others. For example, providers need their software solutions to grow alongside them as their practices grow.
That growth and support must also extend to communication and simplified access. For example, when using CHIROSPRING, there’s no need for a remote desktop or VPN. When operating in multiple locations, providers don’t need to install, run, or maintain additional software. Instead, all they have to do is select their location from a dropdown menu, and the software does the rest.
Communication enhances even further when providers and staff access patient records. They can use patient notes to record comments or notes directly onto a patient’s profile. During the intake process, patients can log complaints and other pertinent information that they want to communicate to staff and providers.
Increased efficiency and reduced errors
Since practices no longer have to worry about using paper documents, it’s easier to complete administrative tasks like appointments, billing, and data entry. Having an online appointment and intake process means your front desk staff members don’t need to spend as much time speaking to patients on the phone or shuffling paperwork when they come in for their appointments. The automatic appointment reminders also reduce how much time your staff must spend on the phone.
Regarding error reduction, in addition to not having to worry about inaccuracies from entering data more than once, you can increase efficiencies in the billing department. You will no longer lose track of charges—they automatically categorize according to their status. You’ll also find folders to organize charges on hold and disputed charges.
Running a 100% paper-free practice means there’s no need to use paper charts, folders, patient records, or filing cabinets to store critical data. Instead, your EHR supports uploading all types of documents, including GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, Word, and ZIP files. Not only does your EHR securely store these files, but it also automatically backs them up.
Document improvements include tagging, organizing, adding notes, and highlighting other essential data. Since your EHR stores all your practice’s data, you can destroy paper documents and declutter the office. Tagging, renaming, and creating customized folders enables practices to stay organized and identify file contents quicker.
In addition to easy uploads and imports into your EHR’s secure HIPAA cloud, it’s also simple to export documents. After exporting, providers and staff can share documents with their patients, other locations, and other providers.
Increased patient satisfaction
Increase patient satisfaction by using the patient dashboard to streamline visits and create customized care plans. These can include a set number of visits that providers can track throughout the patient’s treatment. Providers can view the details of the patient’s care plan at check-in, when editing SOAP notes, and within patient profiles. Templates enable providers to create care plans quickly and easily and provide discounted services.
EHR systems also keep staff and providers from looking at their computers for so long; instead, they’re spending more time face-to-face with patients. For example, it isn’t uncommon for providers to spend time looking at their screens while entering patient data during appointments. That makes it difficult to listen and respond to patient complaints, concerns, and other issues.
Since you can use a touch-based and intuitive system, you can increase patient satisfaction while simultaneously enhancing relationships because you’re spending less time looking at a screen and more time addressing their concerns.
Take that satisfaction a step further by using the notes feature to log the patient’s interests, activities, and potential causes for the issues that you’re addressing. This way, when they return for other appointments, you can be reminded of who they are and what they do. Having these reminders enhances care and helps build patient trust and confidence in what you’re doing.
Several factors lead to increases in revenue when implementing chiropractic EHR. For example, providers can access data anytime from anywhere, enabling practices to optimize appointment reminders, cash registers, claims, reporting, scheduling, SOAP notes, etc. Maximizing efficiencies benefits patients, revenues, and staff by:
- Developing consistency and dependency
- Minimizing resources and time for running daily workflows
- Scheduling repeat appointments
- Speeding up patient intake, care, and other processes
- Using systematic solutions for solving everyday challenges
Using your EHR’s integrated payments also helps your practice increase revenue. The main reason is that they help you save time because the system automatically posts payments to the patient’s ledger. The system also stores credit cards automatically. With just a simple click of the mouse, it can process all recurring payments.
The Keys to Learning How to Successfully Navigate Your EHR Implementation Are in Your Hands
The key to learning how to successfully navigate your EHR implementation is being patient—it just takes time. Implementing CHIROSPRING’s EHR system into your chiropractic practice is beneficial for improving its overall management and workflows.
CHIROSPRING is an all-in-one practice management and EHR system built specifically for chiropractors to help them regain face-time with patients, spend less time on back-office tasks, maintain a limited staff, and save operational costs.
To see how CHIROSPRING can help you simplify how you manage your practice, reach out to one of our specialists today!