Mental health is notoriously (and ironically) resistant to change. Many clinicians expect their clients to be open to change, but struggle to walk this talk, especially when it comes to moving off paper charts! If you – or your staff – meet this criteria, how can you embrace the transition to an electronic system for behavioral health, even as “necessary evil”?
One of the most common challenges we’ve encountered in agencies considering the move to EHR is that, while some of the clinicians and administrative staff are excited, others aren’t. They often feel intimidated by giving up the familiarity of paper for a completely electronic program and/or feel threatened by being required to change their methods.
If your staff is reluctant or even hostile about switching from paper to an electronic system for behavioral health – or switching from one EHR to another – they are much more likely to find fault with the system you propose or choose.
If you yourself aren’t completely sure that you want to make the jump – if you feel that you’re being forced into electronic records to keep up with shifting industry standards, take financial advantage of MIPS incentives, or for any other reason, be self aware. Your attitude just might set the agency-wide stage for implementation failure!
Before you expect (or pressure) your team to buy in, find a way to do so yourself. However you choose to get there, make sure that you are as truly committed to this change as possible before expecting your staff to embrace it. If not, they will sense your hesitation or inauthenticity and might use, consciously or unconsciously, it to hinder the process.
Until you’re 100% confident about switching to a new system, you cannot expect your staff to feel secure about your decision. Start with yourself and work through any resistance you may have until you are completely behind your choice before approaching your employees.
Be honest with yourself about your fears, hopes and—you’ve got it—expectations about any major change within your practice, including implementing an EHR. Setting the expectation that you will calmly and firmly resolve any issues that might arise from EHR implementation – and setting a high bar of positivity for yourself about the change – will greatly enhance the chances of a smooth roll out.
Consider different scenarios that might take place when you unveil your decision to the team, and set realistic expectations about how they might react so that you can prepare:
Use the resources in your therapist toolbox to prepare yourself with positive responses and constructive solutions to potential reactions. Remember and harness the power of the mind to create a supportive staff response at your agency.
One way to allay anxiety is through data: once you can help your team understand the nuts and bolts of the upcoming transition, it may calm some of their fears. For example, demonstrating to a biller that their job won’t be eliminated by an EHR, and rather that they will be learning a new skill set to invoice electronically, can calm a lot of fear-based hostility.
Going a step further to provide details about how they will be trained on this process and how the EHR will answer questions long-term in the form of customer service is even better. If that biller knows that – not only is their job secure – but they will be trained on these dates; expected to use the new system successfully by this time; and have access to this type of ongoing support, you might just gain an ally in the transition process.
Finally, be strategic about support for your staff during the transition. They will most likely be expected to continue working while you switch systems, which means interfacing with patients about the change and dealing with stressful unknowns. The more information you can provide about implementation, roll out, training, and the actual process of switching systems when it’s time, the better chance they will prepared & supported.
As a mental health professional, you know the value of making others feel seen, heard, and valued, especially during challenges. See if you can offer that to yourself and your team for a more successful experience.
For more complimentary tools, check out our EHR Resource Center. To see how PIMSY can save time, reduce expenses, and maximize profitability for your agency, contact us: 877.334.8512, ext 1 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Leigh-Ann Renz is the Marketing & Business Development Director of PIMSY EHR. For more information about electronic solutions for your practice, check out Mental Health EHR.