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3 min read

How to implement electronic health records

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If you’ve never used an electronic health record software before, you might not realise how simple they are to implement. You may think it’ll involve a complicated installation process or that it will be too confusing to be helpful in a real life situation. In fact, electronic health records can simplify incident recording in schools to the benefit of all. Keep reading to learn more about the implementation of electronic health recording software. 

 

How electronic health records work

 

Electronic health records systems remove the need for cumbersome paper-based incident reporting systems. Reducing admin time and the need for bulky physical storage, these systems are easy to use, uncomplicated to install and a dream when it comes to accessing and processing information. As a searchable store of data, electronic health records are much more convenient than paper-based alternatives, especially in larger schools and multi-academy trusts (MATs).

To get the best results out of an electronic health records system, the first step is to populate it with data. The more data, the better, in fact. Ideally, you’d transfer all of your existing health records into the new system immediately. This would ensure you have all the data you need in one place, making it easier to find it when you need it. 

However, this may not be possible right away, depending on how much data there is. If you were using a different electronic health records system before, you may be able to sync the data in one fell swoop. Additionally, some electronic health records systems sync directly to the school’s existing management information systems (MIS). This means that the information is transferred across automatically. If you're moving from a paper-based system to a digital one, you'll need to upload the data manually. Due to the amount of data involved, it makes sense to do this in stages. 

The law states that it is the responsibility of the school to keep all accident reports for three years. Unfortunately, this can comprise a lot of data. For now, keep that data on paper and instead transfer the more pressing information. For example, data referring to current students will often be more useful than information on past students. Once the highest priority information has been transferred, you may choose to upload older data so you can dispose of all your paper records and remain GDPR-compliant.

While uploading existing data is important, you can also begin using the new system as your main incident-reporting set-up. The system will automatically start to form insights based on that new data. 

Top tip! Once your paper records become obsolete, make sure to destroy them responsibly under data protection laws. This will help to ensure that the medical information of students past and present remains secure.

Although electronic health records are designed to be as simple as possible to use, it can take a few days to adjust to the change. Therefore, it can be helpful to host a training session to:

  • Explain how the software works
  • Take a tour of useful areas of the system
  • Demonstrate how to perform common actions 
  • Answer any questions they might have

This can help to make staff feel more comfortable and confident using the software while they get used to it. It might also be useful to find out how electronic health records have helped other schools to give you inspiration.

 

How to improve electronic health records

 

Once you’ve had your new system in place for a while, you can begin to assess how it’s being used and the effect this is having on staff and students alike. There are a few things you can do to encourage a smooth transition to the new system. Some of these happen pre-installation, like choosing an electronic health records system provider that offers a streamlined, easy-to-use interface. Others can be helpful after the transition has begun, such as having one member of staff, e.g. the school’s business manager, take on the role of an expert to help with any queries staff might have about the new system.

Everyone is different, and it’s to be expected that some members of staff will take to the new system like a duck to water, while others may need more time to acclimate. By identifying these people, you can provide additional support, either specifically by asking what they need help with and providing answers, or in a more general way by directing them towards training resources linked to the new system. 

On top of that, if you notice that a certain feature isn’t being used as much as you’d prefer, this could point to members of staff not knowing how to use it, or even not realising the feature exists. Therefore, it might be helpful to provide information on that feature within your usual bulletin or briefing so as to encourage members of staff to use the new system to its fullest potential to improve the benefits for students. 

Electronic health records systems are designed to be as simple as possible to help cut down on admin time for your staff. No technical wizardry is required to get to grips with the system - with a little time, all your colleagues will be confident getting the most out of the system so they can spend more time doing what they do best.

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