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EHR Implementation: How to Put an EHR to Work for Your Practice

By: Nextech | February 23rd, 2024

EHR Implementation: How to Put an EHR to Work for Your Practice Blog Feature

Implementing electronic health records is an exciting step for your medical practice. EHRs unlock tremendous advantages for you and your patients – better patient outcomes, increased revenue, and more efficiency, to name just a few.

Before you can reap the benefits of your new EHR, you need to implement it. A hasty implementation could prevent your EHR from living up to its full potential. But taking a little care and attention at this stage sets you up for long-term success.

What Is EHR Implementation?

EHR implementation means integrating EHR software into the workflows of a medical practice. 

Steps in EHR implementation include:

  1. Making detailed plans for what you need an EHR to do
  2. Communicating the change to staff and patients
  3. Creating databases to organize patient and practice information
  4. Building tasks, workflows, and automations to reduce manual work
  5. Cleaning, validating, and transferring patient data into the system
  6. Onboarding and training staff in the software
  7. Promoting new features to patients

An EHR is a software system that generates and manages electronic health records. Each patient’s entire health history is recorded in their EHR, because the record is easily shared between the various practices and providers they see.

The U.S. government has taken a stand in favor of this technology because of its potential to improve patient outcomes and because it empowers patients to play an active role in their own health.

Long-Term Benefits

For patients, EHRs allow active participation in their health care; easy portability from provider to provider; reduced medical errors; and better long-term outcomes.

For providers, EHRs facilitate faster, more efficient charting; the ability to see more patients per day; better data security; higher reimbursements; and data-driven decision making.

Like any new technology, the implementation period involves some challenges, like upfront costs and getting staff through the learning curve. But these temporary inconveniences pale in comparison to the software’s long-term potential.

Why Worry About Successful EHR Implementation

A great tool applied poorly won’t have great outcomes. A successful implementation pays attention to both the human and the technical details.

On the human side, an unsuccessful implementation leaves staff feeling frustrated. A system that doesn’t work for them or that they weren’t adequately trained for can make them less productive than when they started.

On the technical side, a successful implementation means the system does all the tasks it’s supposed to do. Careful technical configuration also helps protect the practice against cyber attacks and ensures patient data is kept in compliance with HIPAA and HITECH.

How Long Does EHR Implementation Take?

How long it takes to implement EHR depends on several variables, including a practice’s size, whether it is already fully or partially digital, and how prepared it is for implementation.

It typically takes about 48 hours to install Nextech’s EHR. To keep that downtime from affecting operations, we typically schedule installations for weekends or after hours.

While installation is the only time a clinic might be out of service, it is just one piece of the complete implementation timeline.

Taking a practice from the planning stage all the way through completed training could range from about two months for a single-location clinic to 12 months for a large network.

The Steps of EHR Implementation

Phase 1: Planning and Procurement


A successful EHR implementation begins before you’ve even chosen a vendor. It starts with putting together a team.

Each department in your practice should have a representative on the project team. Just like you wouldn’t want your scheduling staff deciding which features the care technicians need, your clinical staff can’t speak to the billing department’s workflow.

More than 75% of physicians who report being dissatisfied with their EHR admit they didn’t accurately assess the practice’s needs. Your project team will establish the goals they hope to accomplish by implementing an EHR and the minimum requirements of a useful tool.

Team members will also identify the constraints of the project:

  • How can we time the implementation for minimal business disruption?
  • What risks will we need to anticipate?
  • What existing software systems do we have to integrate?
  • What’s our budget?

Try timing your implementation for a traditionally slow period. Nextech can be installed in a weekend and learned in a couple of days, but the learning curve won’t be as steep if staff aren’t also juggling the pressures of a busy season.

When budgeting, look beyond the cost of the software. Factor in any hardware or network upgrades you may need, the cost of data backup and storage, and vendor consulting fees.


With your plan in place, you’re ready to find the right EHR for your practice. Look for one that is:

  • Specialty specific – An EHR designed for your specialty will have more of the features you need right out of the box. Nextech has products specifically designed to serve dermatology, med spa, ophthalmology, orthopedic, and plastic surgery practices.
  • Interoperable – An EHR’s power is in its ability to integrate and work with other systems.
  • Easy to use – The more intuitive the interface, the better. Nextech’s platform is so user-centric, new users can usually get around in the platform with just two days of training.
  • Customizability – Your practice is unique. You want an EHR you can customize to your needs.
  • Vendor support – Choose a vendor with a high level of customer support, not one that will create a ticket and leave you hanging. Members of Nextech’s top-notch customer support team have clinical backgrounds, so they understand exactly what problems your users are trying to solve.
  • Scalability – Your EHR will unlock tremendous growth potential for your practice. Look for a product that can scale with you if you decide to add new specialties, providers, or locations.

Your team will research vendors and create a short list. Then they’ll interview those vendors and ask for demos before negotiating a contract.

Phase 2: Technical Setup

Setting up an EHR is a bit more complicated than installing a file and clicking “Run.” It’s likely your old and new systems will run side-by-side for a little while as your new system is being set up.

First, your vendor’s implementation team will configure the system. That includes installing the software, mapping workflows, defining roles and permissions, creating user profiles, and integrating with other systems like billing software.

Next comes data migration, moving your practice and patient data from your old system into the new one. The implementation team will first set up databases to hold your information.

If your practice is transferring paper records, the records have to be digitized before being stored in the new system.

If you’re already working with digital records, the data has to be evaluated, cleansed, and transferred.

Once the data is imported into the system, the team still needs to perform testing and verification to make sure everything is stored correctly.

Other activities in the technical setup phase include customizing reports and dashboards, establishing backup processes, and documenting procedures so your practice can keep running in the unlikely event the system goes down.

Phase 3: Staff Training

Nextech is an easy-to-use system with a user-friendly interface. Still, how quickly your staff picks up on using it depends on each individual’s technology comfort level.

Attitude also comes into play when it comes to successful training. Staff who are excited about the new system and the ways it will make them more efficient will learn much faster than those resistant to changing their ways.

Your project team can smooth this transition by choosing a few power users. These are enthusiastic staffers who are trusted by their peers. Their role is to boost morale, advocate for the new tool, and help their colleagues learn to use it.

Phase 4: Support

Once the EHR is fully integrated into your practice, the vendor steps back – but not entirely out of the picture.

We recommend scheduling a refresher training a couple of months after implementation. During the initial training, people will remember just what they need in order to do their jobs.

Once they’ve gotten comfortable with those basics, a refresher session can remind them of all the additional features the system has available.

Customers in Nextech’s Thrive program also receive robust onboarding and comprehensive and continual training long after go-live, so their EHR can serve them even better over time.

Best Practices for Implementing EHR

Keep Lines of Communication Open

Constant communication is vital to a successful implementation project.

As soon as you start planning the project, let staff know about it. This keeps people in the loop and pulls the plug on the rumor mill.

As the project moves through its phases, keep everyone informed. Provide a channel for people to voice ideas or concerns.

This goes a long way toward encouraging staff adoption of the new platform, preventing misinformation, and clarifying roles and responsibilities.

Follow Training Best Practices

Open lines of communication and a diversity of roles on the project team can reduce resistance to the new tool.

Remind staff frequently how the EHR will help people do their jobs more easily and efficiently, building their excitement to learn.

Training in features you’ll never use is frustrating. Use specific, role-based training so people can focus on the tools most relevant to them. Nextech is the only solution on the market with a proven, role-based user certification process.

About three months after launch, schedule a training refresher. By then, many people will have forgotten some cool features they don’t use every day, and will be glad for the reminder.

Also look for vendors that provide periodic ongoing training to keep your staff up-to-date as new features and functions are developed.

Follow Best Practices for Data Security

The importance of data privacy and data security cannot be overstated.

When configuring your system, implement thorough security measures like user authentication, data encryption, and regular audits.

If you’re digitizing paper records, destroy or dispose of paper copies appropriately, in keeping with the rules and laws of your location.

Develop a response plan in the event of a data breach. The plan should include how to lock down data so a breach doesn’t spread, how to evaluate the extent of the damage, and how to communicate the breach to patients.

After the Implementation: Evaluation and Maintenance

Once you’re past the intensity of your EHR implementation, you’ll be in the maintenance phase.

Continue to assess the system’s performance over time. Schedule regular health checks to examine key performance indicators:

  • User satisfaction
  • Operational efficiency
  • System performance
  • Patient outcomes
  • Profitability
  • Data error rates

Troubleshoot any issues that arise with your vendor.

Effective, Intuitive EHR Solutions

Nextech offers industry-leading EHR solutions for practices specializing in dermatology, med spa, ophthalmology, orthopedics, and plastic surgery.

Our easy-to-implement software helps practices grow revenue, improve profitability, and increase efficiency, all while facilitating top-notch patient care.

Our unrivaled customer support comes from our staff’s deep background in clinical environments. From feature development to implementation to customer support, we are built on the experience of real-world clinicians.

Discover what all the buzz is about and see how Nextech’s EHR software can help your practice unlock its full potential.

To see how Nextech could help your practice, schedule a demo. 



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