Readiness Assessment – 1.4 – Technological Capabilities

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Before you purchase hardware, practices must first assess their technological capabilities.  This includes:
Basic computer skills; Current Use of Technology; and IT Support.

Category: Educational
Date: February 25, 2010
Views:8,395 views

Eric Fishman, MD: Before purchasing a bunch of computers and EHR software, you MUST first assess your practice’s initial technological capabilities. This includes: Basic computer skills; Current Use of Technology; and IT Support.

It will be easier to train your staff to use an EHR if they all have at least a basic knowledge of using a computer, mouse, and keyboard. The vendor’s training should focus specifically on the software, and it would be inefficient for them to spend time teaching single staff members how to merely turn on a computer, for instance.

Lindsay Pine: Most likely, your staff will have a variety of comfort levels with computers and technology. It will be important for you to assess each staff member’s basic computer skills, and assist those who are deficient in gaining these skills prior to choosing and implementing an EHR.

Nicole Laws: Thanks Lindsay. I think an expert can provide more insight into assessing staff’s basic computer skills.

Andrew Carricarte, President, CEO of IOS Systems: The key to a successful implementation is having the physician take a proper assessment of what the physician is used to as far as his documentation and workflow style. So when he or she is seeing patients you have to sit there and make an assessment of how they are interacting- do they interact with computers today? Do they have an iPhone? What’s their level of adaptability to technology? If it’s slow, there has to be a solution and you have to engage your software vendor and ask them if they have something that can basically meet the demands of both a low technology user and high technology user and be able to adapt around their objectives and goals.

Voiceover: In the ‘resources’ section of this module, you will find a sample computer skills assessment for your staff to complete. This assessment will identify if your staff can do the following:Turn on, shut down, and reboot a computer correctly; Find computer programs/functions via the ‘start’ menu or hard drive; Manage security passwords and usernames ;Send, receive, and forward emails and attach documents/images; Create word processor documents and save them to various files and drives; Peview documents, select default printers, and print documents; Scan and save files; Move, delete, and empty recycle bin of documents; Create folders and organize files; Type on a keyboard/Laptop; Navigate the internet, use keyword searches and different search engines; Use a computer Mouse/Laptop keypad; When appropriate, use speech recognition software.

Now, you need to take inventory of your practice’s current technology. This will help you determine what additional technology you will need and budget for it. You can use the spreadsheet in the resources section to keep track of this information as it changes with EHR implementation. To fill out the spreadsheet, you should inventory the technologies you have, technology you have to expand, and what new technologies you will need to purchase. This can include: Computers; Software/licenses; Integrated software (E-prescribing, voice recognition, etc.); Internet access ; Secure Server; Etcetera.

Then, you should go through each of the technologies in your inventory and list their uses.

Then, indicate whether you will want to integrate this technology into your soon to be acquired EHR software. Consider if you will need to purchase more equipment or licenses, or find an EHR that has the functional capabilities to replace what you are using.

In some instances the appropriate action is to get rid of some of your existing technology completely.

This list will help you start identifying specific functionalities that will align with your needs. In the next column of your spread sheet, decide how each of the technologies you listed will help you reach your EHR implementation goals. This document will be extremely valuable when you begin looking for an EHR vendor who will need to SHOW you how its software can meet your practice’s specific technology needs.

With an EHR, investment in IT support is essential to ensure that the system runs seamlessly, successfully and securely. You should think about your IT support staff BEFORE you implement an EHR system. Your IT support should be at the table in the beginning and throughout the vendor selection and implementation, and then finally, the maintenance phases.

Depending on the size of your practice, you may or may not currently have internal IT support. If you are a larger practice, you most likely employ a few IT professionals that are located on-site; or, you may have an outsourced IT company. If you are a smaller practice, you or one of your current employees might be tech savvy enough to handle all of your basic IT needs.

Your level of IT support and your current budget will determine if your EHR should be located and managed on-site; or, if it should be web-based. This will be expanded upon in Chapter 2: EHR selection.

Refer back to your spreadsheet and next to each technology you have listed as important for your EHR adoption, indicate what type of IT support staff you need to achieve your goals.

You’ve now completed Chapter 1.4 of your Readiness Assessment series; please continue to Chapter 1.5.

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