It’s All About The System…

All too often, Panasonic is approached by healthcare organizations that view their electronic medical record (EMR) implementation as a series of linear HC Picsteps. First, they choose a software package; then they reflect on networking and finally they consider hardware for their end users – maybe looking into training after the deployment.

More often than not, those organizations are disappointed in the results of their investment.

When you buy a car, you don’t buy the engine, tires, airbags and seats separately – you buy a solution designed to work together as a whole. We all know that an EMR roll-out is more complicated than a car! So, why would you treat such a complex process as a series of separate investment decisions?

Every EMR system is made up of a standard set of vital components: software, hardware, networking, integration, security, user buy-in, training, support, etc.  None is any less important than the other.  If any one of those items is not compatible with the other, your million dollar investment will end up collecting dust in a corner.

Many aspects of an EMR deployment can lead to disaster.  Failing to appropriately train users on new EMR software; not ensuring sufficient connectivity across the user environment and deploying hardware that is too heavy and unreliable are typical complications.

Rather than create an EMR solution in an ad-hoc fashion, healthcare organizations need to invest in a system that will meet the needs of their users for years to come.

When tackling healthcare deployments serially, organizations run the risk of failure. It is important to take a step back and think about the pieces of this intricate puzzle before putting it together.

So, what should you do?  Every organization is different.  There is no one-size-fits-all EMR solution. However, there are a few commonly-accepted best practices that should always be considered.

1)     Create a multi-departmental planning team.  No one individual or department can foresee all the potential impacts and roadblocks in a deployment. Members from multiple departments bring unique perspectives to the project by identifying challenges that others may overlook or deemphasize.  In addition, including end-users as part of this team helps build crucial buy-in early in the process.

2)     Do not downplay IT support and end-user training.  In many instances, organizations focus solely on the up-front acquisition cost of the system.  However, saving a few dollars on the front end and not investing in training for end-users might cost tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the project.

3)     Consider working with a vendor who can deliver a complete solution.  Not only does this ease the buying process and increase the success of system integration, it lessens the red tape should anything go awry.

As the old adage says, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  For a successful EMR implementation, it is essential to spend the extra time up front in the planning process to truly understand how the various moving parts will work together in your environment.