If You Think A Successful EMR Transition Is All About the Data, Think Again. It’s All About the Docs.

By: In: Document Imaging and Management On: Aug 30, 2011

Nearly 54% of hospital executives cite physician adoption of EMRs to be their greatest challenge in meeting meaningful use.

Are we surprised?  The hybrid environment is complex – and did I mention costly? Physicians are struggling to treat patients with records in both paper and electronic formats, in an environment where they availability and completeness of the record is constantly in question.  Is the electronic record complete?  If not, will I be able to locate the corresponding paper record quickly?  What information is captured where and how can I be sure I’m looking at it all? All this time spent referencing multiple file formats distracts providers from their core mission of delivering quality patient care and, often, results in fewer patients treated daily. As we all know, fewer patients equal less revenue and, the last time I checked, less revenue is never a good thing.

Sadly, there is no magic bullet.  Sure, the implementation of an EMR system with a user-friendly interface is critical and a commitment to clear, consistent EMR training will go a long way. But I caution you, if you are not also evaluating how your current physical storage and scanning processes are influencing your provider’s perception of the EMR, you might be missing an opportunity to further accelerate their adoption of it. Think of it this way, the less painful and distracting you can make the hybrid environment; the more your physicians will be able to focus on learning the EMR technology and delivering patient care.

Centralization of your paper records is an essential component of this. I can already hear what you’re thinking: What could the location of my physical records have to do with the adoption of the electronic record?  The quick and easy answer – nothing and everything. Your providers may have no idea of how you are housing records today or even where they are located. However, they do know how long it takes you to deliver them. The quicker and easier you are able to locate physical records, the more streamlined your scanning processes will become, and, ultimately, the less time your physicians will lose waiting on the information necessary to deliver care. This leads me to critical component number two; the delivery of the record.

It is important that you deliver patient information to your providers in a consistent format– and the earlier you can do this, the better.  While we all know the hybrid environment will continue to exist in the back of the house for quite some time; it’s important to understand it does not have to extend to the front of the house.  Leveraging an image “on demand” or “just in time” scanning process, you can pull the physical file upon request, scan it, and deliver it electronically to the point of care.

The benefits of this are twofold.  One, if you’ve centralized as I suggested above, you no longer have to track down and manage two mediums of information across the organization. Your physical file remains securely onsite throughout the entire process.  No chance of getting lost in transit.  No chance of the provider hoarding it in his or her office.

And two, this process can actually help you reduce dependency on paper. By scanning the physical record and delivering it consistently in an electronic format, you are reinforcing the use of the EMR and, for the most part, keeping paper record out of site and out of mind. What’s more, the time your physicians have to spend sorting between multiple file formats is minimized. This allows them to focus their efforts on learning how to navigate the EMR system – not the hybrid environment.

Bottom line, there is no quick fix to accelerate physician adoption.  However, it’s important to note that your physicians’ adoption of the EMR will be directly correlated to how seamless you can make the transition process.  Incorporating a few of these best practices can go a long way in making your providers’ transition through the hybrid environment to the EMR more seamless, less painful, and, hopefully, faster.

[1] Merrill, Molly.  Hospital Execs cite doc adoption as biggest MU hurdle.  Healthcare IT News.  February, 17, 2011

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About the author

Michelle Urban

Michelle Urban is responsible for the product management and marketing of laboratory storage and workflow management solutions at Iron Mountain. She owns the development of specimen storage solutions from inception to execution, including market research and analysis, customer education and engagement, and go to market program development. In her previous role, Product Marketing Manager, Health Information Management, Michelle partnered with Linda Kloss, Founder of Kloss Strategic Advisors, to develop “Redefining the Role of Health Information Management in the New World of Information Governance,” a whitepaper that gained widespread popularity throughout the healthcare industry and even earned a coveted featured spot at the AHIMA National Conference 2014. Michelle earned her Bachelor’s Degree at Arcadia University and remains active in her local community through the Philadelphia Field Hockey Association (PFHA). She blogs on Health Information Management, Information Governance, Workflow Optimization, HIPAA Compliance, Specimen Storage, Good Laboratory Practices and BioRepositories. Follow me on Twitter @MichellePaster