Health IT Staffing Resource Guide: Overcoming 6 Key EHR Support Challenges Amid Competitive Market Pressures

Today, evolving consumer-driven expectations, along with new market entrants and care models, have amplified competition among healthcare organizations. While this competition can ultimately benefit patients and providers, health systems contending with workforce shortages or ongoing financial strain may be struggling to keep up. To solve these labor and cost issues, many health systems have turned to M&A strategies. However, these large-scale transitions can create additional user and care flow challenges when lacking proper EHR support. Whether experiencing staffing shortages, limited budgets, or system transition pressures, it is crucial for health systems to seek out cost-effective EHR support to remain competitive.

Let's take a closer look at six EHR support challenges your healthcare organization may be facing amid industry and market pressures, along with plausible solutions for long-term system success:

Challenges #1 & #2

  • Staff resistance to system transition – Unsurprisingly, staff may be resistant to an EHR system change and the impact it will have on everyday workflow. If users don't understand the reasoning and logistics behind the change or are uninvolved in the transition planning, fear may cause lack of buy-in and poor new user adoption.
  • Lack of resources to prepare end users for new system adoption – As hospitals implement, consolidate or upgrade EHR systems, there may be a shortage of experienced, certified (or credentialed) system trainers to adequately prepare new end users. Without proper support, novice user training can be time consuming and may reduce organizational productivity.

    • Solution: Go-Live Training Support Services
      With additional go-live training resources, experienced support partners can help develop a training program specific to a hospital's organizational needs. Expert EHR-certified analysts, credentialed trainers, and module-specific resources provide at-elbow support and training tailored to individual end users. One-on-one knowledge transfer sessions and at-the-elbow (ATE) support should range in coverage from extensive new user education to more efficient sessions for skilled users. Thorough training material should also be available to staff for future reference, as well as a continuously updated knowledge hub.

    • By ensuring clinicians and staff are comfortable and knowledgeable in the new EHR, a quality go-live training program boosts new system adoption and user satisfaction. Creating more proficient users from the start increases physician buy-in, alleviates future EHR burnout, and maximizes end-user utilization for long-term EHR system ROI.

Challenge #3

  • Difficulty staffing for ramped up go-live support needs – During an EHR transition or upgrade, internal teams may lack the level of staff, analyst volume, or technical ability necessary to scale support to align with end-user needs. If not addressed, exceeding internal team bandwidth can result in a flood of high priority tickets or unanticipated downtimes — not to mention significant IT staff burnout. Without a seamless system transition, support for future IT initiatives may dwindle, stifling any new system adoption.

    • Solution: Go-Live Call Command Center Services
      Selecting a vendor partner who provides scalable staffing services allows health systems to secure effective support, regardless of fluctuating go-live demands. To seamlessly facilitate new system rollout, a go-live call command center expands traditional help desk support, combining go-live project management, end-user training, and help desk issue resolution all in one as a centralized support hub. Seek vendor partners who pull daily statistical reports to measure live event tickets, call volumes, and resolution rates. These metrics allow staffing modifications to be made immediately, adjusting to an organization's most current support needs.

    • This flexibility ultimately reduces end-user error and frustration, while simultaneously granting internal IT staff time to focus on priority application projects. Moreover, through meaningful interactions with skilled EHR analysts or trainers, clinical end users can more efficiently resolve issues, enabling smoother direct patient care despite go-live pressures.

Challenge #4

  • Overburdened internal IT staff – Balancing legacy system maintenance and data migration alongside a high-pressure go-live event often leaves internal IT teams overwhelmed. If legacy support needs are overlooked or ineffective, healthcare facilities can become vulnerable to workflow, security, and interoperability problems down the road.

    • Solution: Legacy Support Services
      To alleviate internal team strain, consider supplemental legacy support as a cost-effective solution. With high-quality, 24/7 daily support, internal IT staff can focus on priority new system initiatives, feeling confident that existing legacy system SLAs are met or exceeded. Seek a legacy support vendor who can provide the same, if not enhanced, service levels to those previously experienced by end users. Beyond legacy application support ticket management, legacy teams should also manage reporting and system maintenance, with the ability to expand into additional projects including data archival, system sunsetting, or alternative facility support requests. A legacy support vendor should serve as a liaison with the outgoing EHR and application vendor(s) on behalf of the health system, acting a strategic advisor during system transition.

    • To alleviate new-user strain and avoid care delays post live, it is important to prioritize effective data migration. Although tedious work, it is crucial to pre-enter key data points for patients scheduled for the first several weeks of system go live. To efficiently transition data, supplemental support resources may be essential in reducing initial workload on staff as they adjust to the new system.

Challenge #5

  • Concern with potential implementation delays – When faced with limited resources and a tight budget, new EHR implementation delays can lead to disastrous impacts on a healthcare organization's financial and patient care goals. Any unplanned expenses or reallocation of resources mid-project can delay system go live and significantly increase project cost.

    • Solution: Implementation Support Services
      To complete implementation projects on time and within budget, seek a vendor partner who leads comprehensive pre-implementation planning to successfully manage resources. Applying proactive optimization, implementation partners should assess current workflows and then redefine clinical and financial processes to reduce the time and resources required for system transition.

    • But EHR implementation support goes beyond the initial planning phase. Vendor partners should also be able to support system configuration/design/and build work, conduct end-user readiness assessments, provide integration services, administer quality assurance testing, and beyond. Finding a partner who ensures an optimized implementation from the start can help enhance new system acceptance, eliminating delays in patient care or billing post live.

Challenge #6

  • Specific role, certification, or experience gaps within an internal IT team – Due to ongoing workforce constraints, filling specific analyst gaps in application or module support may be difficult. Faced with significant timing and budgetary pressures, hiring, onboarding, and training for roles may not be feasible internally.

    • Solution: Staff Augmentation Services
      For an optimal staffing mix, it is important to assess an internal team's skillset, expertise, and limitations to then determine where gaps exist. Supplemental support consultants can then provide skilled analysts to help meet organizational needs across the continuum of care. Seek resources who have experience completing similar projects at comparable organizations to ensure the most effective support. These resources should provide meaningful EHR knowledge transfer, offering internal staff the necessary skills to sustain success once projects have concluded. By utilizing staff augmentation resources to meet support needs, hospitals can reduce labor costs while optimizing EHR support efficiency.

EHR Support Challenges: Closing Thoughts

While increased competition and market pressures may leave health systems reeling, their IT departments must keep up with evolving support needs. Attaining these supplemental EHR support options can offer a cost-effective reprieve for strained internal IT staff. By strategically optimizing support at every stage of the EHR system lifecycle, healthcare organizations can overcome market and resource obstacles for long-term operational success.

Find Out How to Trim IT Support Costs Today

Find Out How to Trim IT Support Costs Today

To learn how Stoltenberg's FlexSourcing Program can streamline your IT staffing needs, or to hear directly from a current health system client, contact our executive team today.