The launch of a new project such as an Electronic Health Records (EHR) system implementation is a major milestone for a hospital, and represents the culmination of significant investments of time, effort, and money. The success of the EHR launch and subsequent adoption by clinical staff will either have a positive or negative resounding impact on employees, the patients and the finances of a hospital. The consequences of an unsuccessful Go-Live are considerable — to the point where the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources & Services Administration recommends planning, testing, training and piloting the system before rolling it out.
“Preparation for Go-live should cover all aspects of the implementation with adequate time allocated for becoming familiar with the new tasks and support resources available during the entire period,” HRSA says. “This includes testing to ensure all EHR builds are complete, that hardware, software and network interfaces are compatible, and that backup and downtime procedures are in place. This also includes time to ensure that staff is trained on new applications and have access credentials.”
A vital component to the planning, preparation and ultimate outcome of a new EHR is the EHR Clinical Service Desk (CSD). This service, often offered by a Go-Live vendor, provides remote Go-Live support services to a hospital or clinic that just completed the launch of a new EHR system. Despite the name, the Clinical Service Desk is not clinical, but rather an overall EHR Help Desk that also supports other services such as financial, ambulatory and ancillary departments like radiology and pharmacy. CSDs can provide support on everything from basic EHR-workflow troubleshooting capabilities to advanced Level Two support for complex workflows.
Imagine the Alternative to Investing in a CSD
Suppose a hospital is implementing an EHR such as Epic. During the Go-Live phase when the hospital is ready to launch the new system, the hospital will typically undergo a two to three week, high-quality support and adoption program to get all clinicians and staff functioning on the new EHR.
During this period, two to three hundred Go-Live support and EHR consultants fly in to be elbow-to-elbow with all staff, especially doctors and nurses, as they attempt to perform their day-to-day responsibilities using the new EHR system. This massive influx of consultants help the hospital staff learn how to log into the new system and walk through all the new screens. They can even update the staff on how to navigate the EHR within a Microsoft Windows environment if they’ve recently migrated from an antiquated “green screen” computer.
However, after a two to three-week period, all the Go-Live support teams leave, and the only support option for hospital staff is to return to the regular IT Help Desk. This precipitous drop in support can force the hospital’s IT help desk to field thousands of EHR-related calls a week.
A CSD supports clinicians by providing support staff who have clinical knowledge and experience, encouraging clinician use of the new EHR, and improving the experience of the clinician by highlighting the benefits of the new EHR. By leveraging vendors like Leidos, who uses instructors within their CSD model, those clinicians can call whenever they have issues. The regular IT Help Desk staff can listen in, thereby learning how to solve problems in a step by step process.
The launch of a new system such as Electronic Health Records (EHR) is a major milestone in a hospital, and a strong Clinical Service Desk can help make that milestone a success. CSDs help maximize the Return on Value of the hospital’s EHR investment while driving clinician engagement.