3 Keys to a Successful Optometry EHR Switch

Chad Fleming, OD FAAO

Wichita Optometry, PA, Wichita, KS

At some point in our lives, we all have to make a decision to end something – whether it’s good or bad. In his book, Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward, Henry Cloud says, “Getting to the next level always requires ending something, leaving it behind, and moving on. Growth itself demands that we move on.”

This was the case for my 2 location, 4 OD practice. We got to the point where our old EHR just wasn’t sufficiently fulfilling the needs of our busy, growing practice. It required too much hardware and IT support, the customer service was inconsistent, and we were using two separate systems for practice management and EHR. Sure it was working okay for the present, but we had to ask ourselves, would it support our growing practice in the future?

When my partner and I finally made the decision to switch EHR software, we knew it wouldn’t be easy. As practice owners, we sat down and created a list of what we needed to do in order to make our move to a new EHR as successful as it could be. From our experience switching EHR software, these are the 3 keys to making a successful transition to new optometry EHR software.

1. Create Buy In
Make your staff part of the decision making process. If they’re not part of the decision, they have the ability to sink the ship. We took key staff with us to visit another office that was using RevolutionEHR to see how it worked for them in their practice. Our staff made a list of what they liked and disliked about the software so we could properly evaluate the software and make our decision. Since both key staff and doctors decided what was best for our growing practice, when it was time to present the software change to the rest of the team, the entire team (staff and doctors) had the same vision for positive change in the practice and a unified commitment to transition to a new EHR.

2. Invest Time at the Beginning
It is very important to learn and become familiar with the new EHR before you go live. Take time to set up and customize the software to fit the needs and workflow of your practice. Designate key staff to lead the training sessions, and schedule time for staff to go through training. We found it was helpful to set aside 30 minutes to an hour of dedicated training a few times a week for staff members to focus on learning the software. RevolutionEHR has different training tracks based on the roles and responsibilities in the practice, so we made sure our staff was familiar with the areas of the practice where they worked or filled in. Practicing in the software was also key. RevolutionEHR provides access to a mock environment called the “sandbox” where we could practice using and familiarizing ourselves with the EHR before our “go live”. It’s also critical to communicate to patients, early and often, about the software change. If patients know the transition to a new EHR is to improve your practice in the long run, they’ll be more willing to have patience with delays or extra time tasks might take during their visit.

3. Revisit the Vision
Inevitably there will be days during the transition when you and your staff might wonder why you decided to go through the trouble of converting to new software. This is why it’s so critical to remind yourself and staff of the reasons why your office decided to make the change. Revisit the lists created when evaluating the decision – perhaps even posting it on the wall in a common area or lunchroom as a tangible reminder. Increase the number of staff meetings to discuss what is and is not going well. If necessary, take proactive steps to get more hands on training for those who are struggling to learn the software. Anticipate worst case scenarios and implement a plan to deal with them. Most importantly, celebrate successes along the way. Reward your team at 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year post-go live, and share progress reports as you transition.

Ending something and moving on – like switching to a new EHR, isn’t always easy. However, you can set your practice up for success by following these three steps: make your entire team part of the decision making process, put time and effort into preparing for the conversion, and continuously revisit the reasons for making the transition. Keep your team focused on the vision for practice improvements and don’t forget to celebrate the wins along the way!

To discover if RevolutionEHR is a good fit for your practice, watch our Introduction to RevolutionEHR webinar.