Making the choice to switch EHR software providers is not a decision that many ODs take lightly. With years of data at stake, a new learning curve, workflow changes, and high expectations of a new system, it’s no wonder making the switch is a big deal. In a recent survey of over 200 ODs, we learned that 65 percent of respondents are unhappy with their current practice management and EHR system. So, what’s the hold-up?
Fears of a Software Migration
Change is scary. As creatures of habit, it’s easy to fear big changes in the workplace. In that same survey, we also uncovered the top four reasons why ODs aren’t making that software change. Respondents ranked these reasons as their biggest obstacles:
- Time-Consuming Implementation
- High Costs
- Data Migration
- Learning Curve of a New System
These fears are all rational. Implementation can be time-consuming, some systems are more expensive than others, data migration can be messy, and getting your staff on board and trained with a new system can present its own set of challenges. But with the right software provider, these fears can be put to ease with an established and successful implementation and training plan.
Although a software migration can be intimidating, you need to think about your future. Is your current system slowing down your practice, leaving you with a workflow that hurts patient satisfaction, or ties up your staff with redundant tasks? While there might be some growing pains, the benefits of switching to a modern software system should far outweigh the fears.
Why it’s Worth It
Every practice experience is going to be different. We asked a couple of ODs to describe their recent experience with making a software switch to learn more about what was challenging, what made it easier, and why it was worth it.
“My biggest concern when switching to our new system was my staff’s acceptance to the change. Even though switching to the new EHR was a decision I made after considering my staff’s frustrations with our old system, it was what they were comfortable with, and I was hesitant to how they would respond to the change.
The biggest challenge for us ended up being finding the time to train staff on the new system. We are a relatively new and smaller practice, and we have a few staff members who play multiple roles and are responsible for key functions at the office. Devoting the time to train on the new system without interrupting our daily schedule and business was a challenge.
But on the flip side of that, the system we switched to had a very intuitive user interface and we were given individualized training sessions that made our transition to the new system smoother and faster than I was expecting. My staff was able to quickly familiarize themselves, and the interruptions to our daily activity were very minimal.
Our software vendor worked around our schedule to help get staff trained and up to par on the new system–whatever we needed, they were there. Even still, their support team is easy to get a hold of and continues to offer us resources when we need them.
No doubt about it, switching to a new system can be a daunting task, especially for practices limited on time and resources. This type of change involves time and team effort, but switching to a modern software solution that matches your practice's needs will improve your overall efficiency to fuel future growth, and that’s key for any business. Our switch has enabled my practice to eliminate a lot of the frustrations our staff had with our old system, which has boosted our efficiency as a team and improved our patient satisfaction.”
“I decided to make a software switch when I realized I had modernized my practice by upgrading our equipment, hardware, and processes, but our software system hadn’t kept up with the modern changes to the rest of the office. My biggest fear going into the switch was gaining acceptance from my staff. I was also concerned over what could be lacking in the new system that I wasn’t aware of yet.
The biggest challenge for us was finding the time to train the team and really practice with the new system. That being said, once we got our hands on the new system and really dug in, we found that it was much easier than anticipated to become familiar with where things are and need to go in both the practice management and EHR sides of the system.
It also was a big help that the software vendor provided us with our own implementation specialist who guided us through the entire onboarding process and helped make sure we stayed on track to have the most successful implementation possible.
For any business, change is always concerning and nerve-wracking, but also exciting. Once you are able to start seeing the benefits of the new system, and how much easier it makes day-to-day tasks that were challenging before, it makes it all worthwhile!”
Tips for Switching
A few things we have taken away as similarities from the practices that successfully switched software includes getting staff buy-in, staying engaged during implementation and training, and thinking about the future success a new system will bring.
Getting Staff Buy-In
Once you’ve decided you might want to make a software change, set aside some time to discuss it with your team. While it’s ultimately your decision, including your team in the conversation, and hearing their concerns about the impending change, will help you choose a system that meets their needs as well, and gets them excited about the change.
Staying Engaged During Implementation
Both ODs talked about how their biggest concern was the time it takes to implement and learn the new system. Staying engaged during implementation and training ensures that you’re taking the proper steps toward learning the new system. If you don’t take this part of the process seriously, you’re going to get frustrated and experience problems after your software go live. So as hard as it can be to make time, it’s one of the most important steps of the process.
While you may be battling through the challenges of a software switch, keep in mind the reasons you wanted to make this change in the first place. The long-lasting effects you, your team, and your patients, will gain from the new system should help push you through some of the initial challenges.
Shazeen Ali, OD, is a partner with Ranch Road Vision Source in Austin, Texas. Matt Stanley, OD, is a partner with Eye Care Associates of Manhattan, P.A., in Manhattan, Kan.
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