From improved patient care to lower hospital operations costs, to increased overall efficiency, a number of significant benefits can certainly be gained from implementing electronic health record (EHR) systems.
Nonetheless, as more and more EHR vendors enter the realm of healthcare management, some crucial unintended complications have arisen.
Inadequate system design as well as erroneous operation have led to EHR-related failures that can compromise the integrity of sensitive data, in addition to decreasing the quality of care and the safety of patients.
While there will likely always be risks associated with EHR systems in varying degrees as a result of implementation and user errors, health service providers can reduce those risks by identifying commonplace EHR failures and sidestepping these obstacles through meticulous planning.
9 Common Reasons Why EHR Implementations Fail:
1) No Buy-In from Stakeholders
Although it involves a great deal of technology activity, EHR implementation certainly should not be only an IT decision. Multiple stakeholders are involved in the use of EHR and the buy-in from all users is absolutely imperative. Successful EHR implementation demands a physician champion who can assist in getting the various stakeholders on the same page, respond to inquiries in a timely fashion, and help other physicians and clinicians to reach a consensus. EHR implementation involves a variety of factors, such as technology, leadership, change management, training, and overall management. It therefore must support both technical and personnel-related elements.
2) No Mandate from Management
Many discussions centered around EHR involve technology; but there are several other human and organizational aspects which are too often ignored, such as vision, motivation, value, personnel, leadership, training, and support. An additional onus rests on leadership and management to set lofty standards for themselves and provide tools to their team members to help them succeed.
3) Insufficient Infrastructure
The need for solid infrastructure is one of the most easily overlooked aspects of EHR implementations. Most healthcare organizations don’t have the technical skills and infrastructure to support the EHR safely and fail to maintain key aspects such as reliable wireless coverage, networking over good bandwidth, regular data backups, patient data security, or scalable data centers. Any one of these issues can severely diminish the productivity of physicians and clinicians, as well as negatively affect patient care.
4) The Wrong Technology
With the ever-increasing expansion of mobile devices, everyone has become accustomed to working in a certain way. Mobile has become the “natural” way of working, touchscreens have replaced keyboards in most mobile devices, and compatibility across devices is widely expected. Not to mention users’ assumption that computers should and will work super-fast. EHR systems need to be able to adapt to these evolving technological advances. Technology that isn’t scalable, isn’t responsive, doesn’t work as fast as people are used to, or which isn’t equipped to capture multiple data points will soon be discarded by users.
5) Inadequate Functionality
Many EHRs drop the ball on important functionality factors, such as comprehensive health history, ease of order entry, and alerts or alarms to clinicians about patient conditions. While data is significant, the presentation of information must be specifically tailored to the user. Other key requirements include task tracking for improved patient care and patient-side health information management.
6) Disorganized Workflows
No two EHR implementations are identical; therefore, there can be no “one size fits all” kind of approach. EHR technology should be adaptable to each provider’s workflow, which is unique to each department and hospital. Instead of learning the completely new system and changing the way they work, clinicians should be able to work faster and better; but this can only happen if the EHR adopts their specific workflows. Workflow analysis is crucial prior to EHR implementation.
7) Absence of Interdepartmental Processes to Implement Change
The objective of EHR technology should be to make interdepartmental communication so seamless that there is no need for any other form of communication, apart from that which is conducted through the EHR system. In some cases, this could be a fundamental change in the way departments work. In such cases, healthcare organizations must invest in designing and implementing processes to make all communication happen through the EHR system.
8) Lack of Training and Change Management
Much like the implementation of any other major technology, EHR implementations must consider the “people factor,” which, if neglected, could be the leading cause of project failure. Some physicians may be technology-savvy, others might be savvy at social networking, while still others could be not-so-savvy at all. In such cases, organizations might encounter resistance to technology by way of withdrawal or refusal. To prevent this steep learning curve, healthcare practices need to invest in extensive training — well in advance of implementation, before the system goes “live.” The EHR system should be able to easily identify which users require more training and make provision for them. Critical buy-in and ready skills are crucial to the success of EHR implementation. Proper training helps users understand the fit between their needs and the EHR solution. This also helps alleviate the problems of unrealistic expectations and decreased productivity.
9) No Post-Implementation Follow-Up or Support
EHR implementation is not the end of the story; in a real sense, it’s just the beginning. Offering comprehensive post-implementation support to end users and stakeholders is critical, so they don’t feel abandoned and ignored. The EHR provider must make provisions to answer user questions and resolve queries in a timely manner. In addition, ongoing training programs must be available to all users. Surveys, interviews, and observations can be used to evaluate the EHR’s performance, as well as help effectively determine the actual vs. expected outcomes. This data can also be utilized to process improvements for future implementations.
Transitioning a healthcare organization to a truly digital environment requires total commitment and numerous adjustments – and this is often a challenging process. Understanding the principal causes of EHR failure is paramount to minimizing the hazards of implementation and its potential effects on patient care and hospital workflows.
EncounterWorks EHR is a completely integrated system that combines data management, billing, and electronic health record functions into one easy, smart, and flexible program. Flexibility and customization options enable our EHR to efficiently adapt to any practice specialty, making us the perfect fit for any healthcare team!
If you’re not 100% satisfied with your current EHR provider, give EncounterWorks a call today at 877.884.3367!