Electronic Health Records: implementation or transformation


Posted on: November 27, 2018 by Tony Rich

The implementation of Electronic health records globally has now moved from basic patient administration to varying degrees of integrated record across the fully gamut of clinical specialities and hospital patient management – and in many cases are now evolving to being true clinical, patient and operational support tools.

The benefits for patients and clinicians of introducing electronic health records (EHR) into healthcare organizations are now well acknowledged. Having ready access to complete, accurate and up-to-date patient information can make major contributions to improving patient safety and quality of care while increasing efficiency and improving day-to-day workflow. However even today we see that many upgrade, migrations or new implementations are done as a stand alone project, users are trained and the project deemed success because the system sent live and has users. Yet even in the last 5 years we have seen some catasprohic push back from clinical staff as they were not fully consulted and included in a bigger business transformation to improve the way they worked, and the system implemented seen as a barrier to work. In short, when it comes to EHR, too many organizations still focus solely on implementing new software and fail to ensure that the benefits are fully delivered.

Ensuring that the project is part of a larger programme that continues post-go-live, the value of EHR systems and any subsequent upgrades will never be realised and actually a simple financial return on the significant investment never realised. For example, if user training and adoption are not sustained, existing users may fall back on workarounds and ineffective workflows and new users may receive insufficient training. In many ways, the real effort only begins at go-live; processes to ensure long-term adoption require a very different set of disciplines to those required to ‘go live’. What is needed is a plan strategy and plan for how changes and improvements will be sustained and meet the longer term business goals of both the organization and each respective clinical and non clinical long term business goals. An EHR business programmes must address two important areas with regards the EHR.

  • How the organization will support end users’ ongoing needs, including communication, education and maintenance of materials and resources
  • How and when metrics will be collected to assess end user adoption and performance.

Power of metrics

Today businesses in all walks of life are becoming data driven - where they make key business operational and management decisions based on metrics and monitor those metrics to identify where change is good or detrimental to the organization. Consistently measuring users’ knowledge about and confidence in the system creates a barometer for proficiency levels and best practice. Performance metrics are powerful indicators of whether users are improving, maintaining or regressing in their adoption of a new system and of any reversion to old behaviours. Metrics also keep organizations on track if, for any reason, performance does not meet expectations. If these warning signs come early, then organizations can react quickly and proactively to address the problems and ensure the promised benefits of EHR are realized. An effective sustainment plan requires time, resources and funding – ideally this is identified during the initial planning and budgeting for EHR. Then to ensure post live sustained adoption and use it takes constant focus on improving quality of care, patient safety and financial outcomes. According to Klas those Organizations that follow this approach and invest in a post go live progamme see the highest level of financial and service operational benefits, resulting in improve Staff and Patient experiences.

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About Tony Rich
Head of Global Propositions & Industry Verticals at Unify
Tony Rich Head of Global Propositions & Industry Verticals. Prior to Unify Tony was a Healthcare Transformation Consultant with over 10 year’s experience working as an Interim Director at numerous NHS Trusts in Acute and Primary Care driving strategic turnaround projects/programmes. He has also been closely involved in many award winning global healthcare innovations for a variety of overseas organizations involving Communications, RFID, social media and other technologies. Tony is also one of the founding members of the Health Transformation Project in the United States and an active global HIMSS member and mentor.

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