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Why EPR Managers Are Essential

As healthcare systems become increasingly digital, NHS Trusts face the critical task of implementing and managing Electronic Patient Record (EPR) systems.  However, some Trusts encounter obstacles in optimising these systems and fully capitalising on their capabilities.  For example, despite implementing Epic EPR in October 2020, Royal Devon University Healthcare Foundation Trust continues to struggle with reporting performance. 


In an interview with HSJ, chief executive Sam Higginson described Epic as a “Rolls-Royce of an EPR”, but he added: “For lots of different reasons we’re still driving it a little bit like it’s a Ford Focus.”


He went on to explain, “We assumed by installing an EPR that basically it would have a sufficient level of functionality that we could switch off pretty much everything else. But then you find actually it doesn’t quite have the functionality you thought it did, or you don’t quite know how to use it.”


While the trust has highlighted successes and saying that the trust’s use of the EPR was improving “every month”, it is not where they need it to be.


Similar challenges have been reported by many other Trusts across the country.


This demonstrates why it is vital for Trusts to employ an experienced EPR manager who can optimise the use of this technology, even before implementation. Here are key reasons why this strategic decision can greatly benefit NHS Trusts:


In-Depth Knowledge of EPR Systems

Experienced EPR managers possess extensive knowledge of various EPR platforms, including their capabilities, limitations, and best practices for implementation. This expertise is crucial for selecting the right system that meets the specific needs of an NHS Trust, ensuring that the chosen solution supports clinical workflows, enhances patient care, and complies with regulatory requirements.


Efficient Implementation and Integration


Implementing an EPR system is a complex process that requires meticulous planning and execution. An experienced EPR manager can oversee this process, ensuring that the system is integrated smoothly with existing IT infrastructure and other healthcare applications. Their project management skills are vital for coordinating efforts across departments, minimising disruptions to clinical operations, and ensuring that the project stays on schedule and within budget.


Customisation to Meet Specific Needs


No two NHS Trusts are identical, and an off-the-shelf EPR solution may not address all unique requirements. Experienced EPR managers have the expertise to customise the system to fit the Trust’s specific needs. They can tailor the EPR system to support specialised clinical practices, improve data entry processes, and enhance user experience, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes.


Enhancing Data Security and Compliance


Data security is paramount in healthcare, and EPR systems are a prime target for cyber threats. Experienced EPR managers are well-versed in implementing robust security measures to protect sensitive patient information. They ensure that the system complies with NHS Digital’s data security standards and other regulatory frameworks, mitigating the risk of data breaches and ensuring patient confidentiality.


Training and Support for Staff


The success of an EPR system heavily relies on the proficiency of its users. Experienced EPR managers play a critical role in training clinical and administrative staff, ensuring they are comfortable and competent in using the new system. Continuous support and troubleshooting provided by the EPR manager can help staff adapt to the system more quickly, reducing the learning curve and minimizing errors.

Driving Continuous Improvement


Healthcare technology is continually evolving, and EPR systems need to adapt to new advancements and regulatory changes. An experienced EPR manager will stay abreast of these developments, ensuring that the system evolves accordingly. They can implement system upgrades, incorporate new functionalities, and continuously improve the system to better serve the Trust’s needs and enhance patient care.


Better Return on Investment


Hiring an experienced EPR manager can lead to significant cost savings and a higher return on investment. By ensuring the right system is chosen and effectively implemented, they can help avoid costly mistakes and rework. Their expertise in optimising the system’s use can improve operational efficiencies, reduce administrative burdens, and enhance the overall quality of care provided by the NHS Trust.


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