EMR Implementation: An Opportunity To Strengthen Physician Relationships

As our industry moves toward an era of interconnectivity, hospitals and healthcare systems continue to expand their health information capabilities. Those that have not yet installed an electronic medical record system are making plans to do so, and those that are already "wired" are working to uncover new and innovative ways to mine data and inform clinical decision-making.

Electronic medical records are extremely beneficial once they are up and running because they not only help patients move through the healthcare delivery system in a more coordinated, less disjointed way but also because they provide caregivers with information that leads to higher quality, lower cost care.

It’s true that implementing new technology can be disruptive, but organizations that make an effort to prepare physicians and staff for the transition can see great results, says Quint Studer, founder of the Studer Group.

"An EMR implementation can be a great opportunity to get physicians and staff more deeply engaged with your organization and more connected to their larger mission,” says Mr. Studer. “It’s a good chance to reinforce the why — to remind them that EMR helps everyone provide better care.”

Some disruption is inevitable
There’s no doubt that the implementation of any new technology can disrupt clinician workflow. Health systems that fail to provide additional resources for physicians and staff and/or prepare them for decreased productivity during this time could face big challenges. 

For example, documenting care and entering orders takes more time, reducing the time a physician has to spend with patients. Low morale and frustration flare-ups can negatively affect patient care, and at the very least, patient experience. Independent physicians could take cases elsewhere, where IT systems are easier to use.

"High-performing physicians are going to feel like they're going backward before they feel like they're going forward," says Mr. Studer. “That’s why it’s so important to let them know up front that things may be tough for a little while — and also to let them know you’ll do anything you can to make the transition easier.”

Get ahead of the game before you implement
Organizations should figure out ways to improve medical staff productivity before EMR implementation. Mr. Studer recommends leaders meet with medical staff members to determine what current barriers slow their productivity. Then, implement swift changes to fix these things before their workflow is disrupted further by new technology.

“There’s a lot you can do to make physicians lives easier and to get them more aligned with the rest of the organization,” he says. “You can measure physician satisfaction and take steps to improve it. You can have leaders round on physicians to find out what’s working well and what’s not. You can implement processes to standardize interactions with other staff members.

“What you’re also doing is building up an emotional bank account with physicians,” adds Mr. Studer. “That way, when you’re doing the implementation and things get challenging, they’ll be willing to work with you.”

Avoid overpromising
While no health system is going to be able to remove the learning curve associated with EMR, the ones that are most successful in maintaining physician support during this challenging time are careful not to over promise and under deliver, says Mr. Studer.

If physicians are aware of the impact the new technology could have on their workflow, they are more likely to support the implementation, even if it seems frustrating.

“What you want to do create is a true feeling of partnership with physicians,” notes Mr. Studer. “That requires transparency. Level with them about how long it will take and how challenging it will be, and if you’ve done everything else right, they’ll 'own' the process along with you.”

EMR is a tactic, not a strategy
Most importantly, says Mr. Studer, hospital leaders need to keep in mind that EMR implementation is not a strategy, it's a tactic. What’s more, they need to communicate that distinction to physicians and staff members.

"The goal is not to install an EMR system,” he says.  “A goal is something that makes your patients' or your clinicians' lives better. If the goal is to improve clinical outcomes and make providing care more efficient for the caregiver, show physicians and staff how the EMR system will get them there.

“There’s so much power in communicating the why,” he adds. “If you tell them why it's good for them, good for the organization and good for the patients, they'll go through the pain to get there.”

More Articles Featuring Quint Studer:

Assessing Leadership in the New Era of Healthcare Delivery: 5 Key Questions to Ask
Quint Studer: Mastering the Fine Art of Follow-Up
Quint Studer: One Simple, Powerful Way to Improve Communication at Your Hospital

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars