EMR Technology Exacerbates Problems

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One thing that I’ve mentioned many times in the 4+ years of blogging about EMR is the impact of technology on a clinic. I’ve regularly mentioned that you shouldn’t implement an EMR to try and fix process problems in your clinic. Instead, you should first address the process problems in your clinic and then implement the EMR with the proper processes already in place.

The reason for this is quite clear. Technology, in this case EMR, has a tendency to just exacerbate any problems that exist in a clinic. In fact, it will often bring to light problems that you didn’t know existed before EMR.

A simple example is doctors who are behind on their charts. In the paper world, you might not know how far behind they are on their charting. In the electronic world many EMR software make it abundantly clear how many charts still need to be completed.

In a call I had recently with the people behind the Mitochon EMR, they made a really interesting point about communication between doctors. It’s basically the same concept as I’ve described above. If communication between doctors is bad in the current world, then layering some sort of HIE or other technology on top of it will just make communication worse. Technology is going to accentuate and enhance (for good and bad) whatever might be going on currently.

Interestingly, this concept might add further light as to why so many EMR implementations fail. Sometimes it’s hard to look in the mirror for the first time and take a good hard look at what’s really happening in your clinic.