I have recently(over the past 6 months) been studying the healthcare industry and the IT needs that are coming about as a result of the government stimulus money and the push for EHR (Electronic Health Records) across the whole industry.
Physicians need 3 things relating to IT as they look to implement a new EHR system.
1. IT consultant or manager
This seems simple to those that have implemented EHR systems and understand the complexity and the requirements, but physicians need to know that the systems are very IT dependent and definitely need guidance through the process of merging their current IT infrastructure with the new EHR system. An IT consultant will definitely help Healthcare practices have a smoother transition to a new EHR system. I recommend finding somebody in house that understands and can implement IT or finding an independent Healthcare IT consultant that knows how to integrate your IT systems with the proposed EHR.
2. Basic Systems and Network
It is super important that your computers and servers and firewalls are upgraded to handle the new load that will be put on the network. If a practice fails to do this, many problems related to the EHR will find their roots in a poorly set up network. Critical components to systems are cabling and wiring, reliable and sufficient internet connectivity, security measures like a good and managed firewall and anti-virus, and reliable desktops, laptops and tablets. If all these things are in place it will greatly help the transition to a new EHR be more pleasant.
3. Strategy for maintenance and support
New requirements for support are often overlooked and can add an additional cost of maintaining and supporting a new EHR. This step should not be overlooked. Many physician practices are spending at least $1,500/month on IT support to maintain and take care of the IT infrastructure that is critical to a smooth operating practice running a new EHR. This should not be overlooked and having an IT person on staff or outsourcing to a reputable company that has experience in that area.
If practices consider these 3 things they will be more prepared for the IT demands that a new EHR puts on a small practice.