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6 keys to successful virtual or hybrid EHR implementation

Virtual work models went mainstream during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic. For many businesses, remote customer interaction was the only way they could maintain operation. But as we start to regain some semblance of life pre-COVID, hybrid and virtual work environments have now become part of our new normal. Is there a place for these work models in the new normal for the home health and hospice industry?

Home healthcare organizations continue to deal with the massive impact of the pandemic while also navigating federal regulatory changes. From PDGM to interoperability, home and hospice agencies must rethink how they document and share patient data. As a result, adopting a scalable, tech-driven EHR solution has become critical for many of these organizations to maintain compliance and sustain (or increase) their bottom line. But can an EHR vendor integrate these software components into a home healthcare agency’s workflow structure using a virtual or hybrid implementation method? According to Olieda Swanson, MatrixCare director of professional services, the answer is yes.

“Prior to the pandemic, we already had a remote model of implementation,” said Swanson. She explained that the COVID-19 pandemic was not a factor when the company opted to utilize a mix of in-person and remote EHR implementation methods.

The benefits of hybrid or remote EHR implementation

Agencies should view virtual implementation as part of the customer experience, as it can play an essential role in personalizing learning for staff. Swanson noted that a remote implementation model is a cost-efficient measure that enables greater flexibility.

“If we’re looking at travel-based implementation or an onsite-based where travel is required, consultants typically lose one day getting to and from the site,” explained Swanson. Time that could be spent training clinical staff on its new EHR platform is spent managing the logistics.

The flexibility of remote or hybrid implementation can also positively impact an agency’s operation and revenue. “We monitor successful adoption of the software with our OBI review process,” said Swanson. For home health or hospice agencies, this means there is oversight to ensure that workflows are being followed and the software change does not negatively impact cash flow.

What does a successful EHR implementation look like?

While several variables can determine implementation steps, there are key factors that can help to produce positive results following implementation regardless of an organization’s delivery method or location. Home healthcare agencies should treat the following six keys as guiding principles for how they collaborate with their EHR provider and develop an implementation strategy.

Engagement

According to Swanson, when project sponsors are disconnected or not involved, the chances of a seamless implementation are significantly reduced. The same occurs when an agency’s project team fails to prioritize implementation. Make sure to take time to understand the process. Ask your EHR vendor questions so that you can relate the process to your current workflow. Granted, initiating software training and implementation in a virtual or hybrid environment may look different, but your EHR vendor’s training method should be consistent. Make sure you’re taking the time to look at it, think through it, and associate it to your current process. Know where there’s going to be some differences.

Teamwork

Meet internally as a team to discuss the implementation and changes, and how to adapt to those changes. Collaborate to determine which processes and changes will need to happen that may not align with your current process. Discuss the different challenges your team might face or variables they may not understand that should be covered in future training. And consider all the associated risks. Address these concerns with your vendor.

Processes

All processes should be considered, validated, and documented during user acceptance testing (UAT). Processes are pivotal, as EHR implementation will impact care delivery and your business—from performance management to revenue generation. When your vendor communicates all process changes during end-user training, they’re not just sharing platform features and functionality; they’re conveying what process changes to anticipate.

Assignments

As you’re working through implementation training sessions and sorting through all process considerations, assign practical tasks to help end-users gain experience with various EHR platform capabilities. Some of these assignments may involve exercises that require completion. While it may be

inconvenient to take additional time outside of scheduled training sessions to discuss or complete tasks, applying what was taught during implementation training helps to confirm that your team firmly understands the workflow. And that can be passed to all end users.

Communication

Providing ongoing communication increases visibility within the project team and end-users throughout implementation. And that means keeping everyone informed—not just the power user team, but all end-users and others within your organization. Your message will vary at different phases of implementation. For example, you may want to announce your new partnership with the EHR vendor early in the implementation process and share key points around why your organization has elected to implement your new EHR solution. Share features, upgrades, and benefits that will make the decision worthwhile from an operational and patient care perspective. Covering these communication topics will help your agency gain companywide buy-in, which can lead to adoption and utilization.

Support

From implementation and training to the official go-live, remote vendor support is critical. This ensures you have someone working closely with your staff to ensure implementation and go-live occur within the project timeline.

Accessible remote support is also critical to your end-users. Because an implementation can be perceived as overly complicated, it’s important to have someone available who can help end-users overcome potential implementation challenges. End users will also have a reliable source to bounce questions off should something new or complex arises during training. Your staff should know how to contact that person or team and when to go to them for the necessary support.

MatrixCare has the resources and expertise to implement EHR software in a remote or hybrid environment.

Many home health and hospice organizations are apprehensive about acquiring a new EHR technology. And there’s even greater anxiety around the idea of implementing that new technology in a non-traditional or blended learning environment. MatrixCare understands these challenges and partners with agencies throughout implementation to eliminate fears and work through any snags. Since July 2018, MatrixCare has completed more than 160 EHR software implementations remotely, including some that were performed using a hybrid model. We offer industry-leading EHR technology and unrivaled experience to support the successful implementation of your new EHR platform in a remote or hybrid setting. Our implementation methods make training more accessible and surprisingly rewarding without derailing the customer experience.

To get details about our EHR software and capabilities and for more information about our implementation options, contact us for a free demo.


Olieda Swanson
Olieda Swanson

Olieda Swanson is the Director of Professional Services and has served on the MatrixCare Professional Services Team for four years. She has over 10 years experience in home health and hospice software implementations and holds certifications in Professional Project Manager (PMP) and Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt (CLSSBB). Her journey in home health began over 25 years ago as a home health aide in a hospital-based home health agency, falling in love with the industry and never leaving. She prides herself on leading with a continual improvement focus while encouraging the team to continually improve our services for our customers. Olieda resides in central Ohio with her family.

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