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Practice Management

One size does not fit all

hen it comes to selecting, implementing and measuring the success of automation tools for small to medium-size practices, there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. And with so many vendors and features to choose from, the decision can be challenging – if not overwhelming – for physicians and practice managers. The challenge is managing a successful implementation that ensures the long-term adoption of new automation tools.


Healthcare reform has expedited the adoption of auto- mation systems, including practice management (PM) and electronic medical record (EMR) software and e-prescribing (eRx) tools. There’s little doubt that practices are also genuinely making the change to automate previously manual workflows because of the many benefits they stand to gain, from better clinical outcomes to improved operational effi- ciencies to greater profitability. Despite these enticements, the fact is that change is hard.

Here are six strategic tips that will help ensure the smooth selection and deployment of practice automation tools:

1. Get staff buy-in

Most professionals, whether they’re physicians or admin- istrators, spend years becoming masterful at their jobs. None want to feel surprised by sudden and unanticipated changes at work – and certainly not by new workflow processes that may impede efficiency. Even before starting the product/vendor evaluation, it’s critical to gain staff buy-in. Practice manag- ers should hold staff meetings early and often to discuss the need for the automated solution and let all know that their input will help make the right choice for the practice. It’s also important for staff to understand that the vendor’s technol- ogy will be aligned with staff preferences and workflows, not the other way around. Explaining how the technology can simplify tasks and lead to greater efficiencies will go a long way toward staff accepting that there will be a learning curve, and it is important to be patient with one another as the team gets on board.

2. Identify implementation champions and super users In order to hold to the target deadline and enable effec-

26 October 2012



Six strategic tips that will help ensure the smooth selection and deployment of practice automation tools. By Anna Randall and Bruce Lieberthal

tive department-wide communication, prac- tices should identify administrative and/ or clinical “champi- ons” who will lead the selection and imple- mentation projects,

Bruce Lieberthal is vice president and general manager for Henry Schein MicroMD. Anna Randall is the practice administrator for Middle Georgia OB/ GYN. For more on Henry Schein:

advocate for change and keep their departments apprised of updates, timelines and priorities. Similarly, when working with a vendor, it is helpful to identify a main resource per- son to help guide the practice through the implementation process. Additionally, some practices may be able to identify and enlist “super users” who will be in place to help increase the adoption rates and decrease errors of other users after deployment. Super users are typically tech savvy, excited about the new tools and positive in their interactions with other staff members, who will serve as good trainers and coaches for other staff members that might be less technical and/or more resistant to change.

3. Plan the implementation project

Start planning your implementation project by conducting a workflow analysis to provide stakeholders with an understand- ing of how patients are currently managed through the admin- istrative or clinical experience, from scheduling an appointment to receiving discharge instructions, as well as documenting every resource used throughout the patient and staff experi- ence. The workflow analysis should be created in two parts: current workflows and new workflows. Use the new workflow documentation to identify changes to the current processes, as well as new resources. Share the new workflow with everyone that has an interest in making practice improvements and all staff that will interact with the new tools.

When a workflow analysis is completed, the practice should expect to see: • Workflow maps of current office processes and resources; • A description of current inefficiencies and opportunities for improvements; and

• A high-level map of future workflow redesigns, including new office processes and resources.


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