The Importance of Obtaining Buy-In for Your EHR Optimization Project

Chad Anguilm, Vice President, In-Practice Technology Services Electronic Health Records (EHR)

EHR optimization projects can be challenging because everyone has an opinion. If you were to take a poll of EHR system users to determine their top five EHR optimization requests, you would undoubtedly end up with a variety of answers and large disparity among users. Each department or function of a medical practice or health system will have their own short list of needs and priorities. Ultimately, it would be impossible to deliver on every request in Phase 1 of the optimization project. And yet, you need to start somewhere.

Leaders of successful EHR optimization projects focus on gathering the needs, prioritizing, and gaining buy-in from all staff. The best laid out plans will not work unless everyone within the organization is on board, throughout the entirety of the project. It is not always easy to juggle competing demands from users and keep the peace. But it can be done. Here are a few steps that will bolster buy-in for your EHR optimization project:

Determining Motivation

To begin your EHR optimization project, find out what motivates your team. Individuals within the same company, even within similar roles, may have completely different motivations. If you can gain an understanding of what motivates your team, it will be much easier to secure their commitment and buy-in. Although this type of background research can be time-consuming, this is a critical element that should begin during the early phase of the project, well before any strategic direction is announced. Once understood, staff motivations can be linked to project and company goals, creating a plan that is beneficial to the organization and rings true with staff at all levels.

Understanding Individual Contributions

Ensure each team member understands his or her contribution to the project. Once you have tied the project goals to each person’s values and motivations, you can move on to broadcasting how the project goals will benefit the entire team. During this phase, it is important to allow team members to voice concerns or give feedback. Gaining clarity and understanding on how each team member’s contributions impact the project, and will ultimately improve the work environment, is the glue that will keep your project together.

Providing Continuous Feedback

Once you have determined motivations and outlined individual contributions, you will be well on your way to a successful EHR optimization. The next step is continuing to provide positive feedback throughout the life of the project. While a retrospective is helpful once the project is over, it is equally important to provide periodic updates and “lessons learned” throughout the course of the project. By pairing those updates with positive feedback for team members, you will be able to maintain and even increase the level of buy-in for the project. Take time to thank your team members for their contributions and their commitment to the project and give specific examples of how individual activities helped to move the project forward. This will ensure that your team stays motivated and feels appreciated, which will go a long way toward improving the health of your project. Positive feedback can even boost morale in ways that will continue as you move into future projects.

Know When You Need Help

Some medical practices and health systems have a robust team in place to ensure buy-in and achieve success throughout each phase of an EHR optimization, but others may not have the dedicated resources needed to ensure a successful project. At Medical Advantage Group, we often are called in to “rescue” an EHR optimization that has gone awry due to a lack of buy-in. Our team has years of experience working in medical practices and health systems as users of EHRs, as team members responsible for guiding the way to value-based care, and as leaders of implementation projects.

Be proactive and reach out to our EHR experts before you begin your project to receive an assessment and create a framework for your EHR optimization project. It’s a small investment upfront that can pay major dividends in terms of employee morale and overall project success. Medical Advantage Group’s EHR consultants will be there every step of the way to help keep the project on track and ensure buy-in throughout the lifecycle of the project.


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