What Transitioning to an EHR Has Taught Me

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By Ethan McCarty, RT,(R)(CT)(MR), MBA, CRA

At my current organization we recently made the change from a bunch of home grown systems to MEDITECH Expanse for our Electronic Health Record. We started the process in January 2018 with a Go Live date of August 1st, 2020. Over the 20 months my team spent countless hours building, testing, updating, and finalizing the system for our “Go Live.” As we complete our second week with MEDITECH I thought I would share three valuable lessons I have learned.

Number 1: Communication is key.
At the start of this process the Medical Imaging Leadership team made a commitment to ourselves and to our team to make sure to communicate through the whole transition period with all of our staff members.
At the beginning, the leadership team sought input on our current workflows and how our staff would like to see them improved. We had each manager detail out each process that their staff members use throughout the day. Once these were documented and we were able to get into our test system, we used our current workflows to guide us in building our future state workflows. As we got the test system up and running we communicated with our staff to test the features of the system and to provide feedback on their workflows. We used this to optimize the test system and try to predetermine our kinks during our go live. Lastly, as we came down the final stretch we communicated how great the change would ultimately be, but how hard and frustrating the next two weeks would likely be.
Our goal was to make sure staff knew to expect challenges and to encourage them to overcome those challenges as a unit. Over all, I believe we as a unit communicated effectively with our staff. However, on day one of “Go Live,” we quickly realized that even with all of our communication, we still failed to have all of our processes lined out.

Number 2: Change is hard. 
We have spent the last two weeks live with our new EHR. We have been working around the clock trying to identify our issues and come up with different solutions. These hours have been met with many emotions, from frustration when finding another nuance, to joy when we finally solve an issue. Our frontline staff has spent time learning new processes, identifying issues with our expected workflows, and experienced delays in providing patient care as they are learning the new system.  I know that over time these workflows will be optimized and we will be running like a well-oiled machine, but during these first two weeks, I realized how hard change can be for all of us. Getting out of our comfort zone into a new routine brings a challenge to us all.

Number 3: Teamwork makes the dream work. 
Our goal at our hospital is to be the best, and to be a place where very good things are happening, and excellence counts. In order to do that, we needed to make the change to our EHR. As I mentioned above, we have spent hours planning and preparing this system to “Go Live,” and now we have spent the last two weeks actually getting the system up and running. While moving through the “Go Live” I witnessed first hand the ability of our team to come together to achieve a greater goal. They have worked together through expected and unexpected issues with grace, kindness, and determination to reach our challenging goal. They have proven that teamwork really does make the dream work.

In conclusion, there are many more learning points from our recent EHR transition. I believe it was important for me to learn from our opportunities and to share these with you. I hope the next time you come up against a big change you can learn from my lessons and a few of your own as well.

Ethan McCarty, RT,(R)(CT)(MR), MBA, CRA is the Administrative Director of Medical Imaging at Southern Ohio Medical Center.  He can be reached at (740)-356-8771.

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