Paper Charts, No More – 5 Stories of EMR Success, Even Amidst Some Failure

Posted on June 1, 2006 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

It was very nice to see a well written article that documented 5 cases of users implementing an EMR system. I think there are hundreds of more stories that need to be told. They laid out the stories into 5 phases as follows:
Phase 1: The Spark
Phase 2: The Vendor Search
Phase 3: The Installation
Phase 4: The Payoff
Phase 5: The Future

I love the idea of the 5 phases, but some of the stories didn’t seem to fit the phases described above. Looking at the phases above it does seem like they left out a nice gap between installation until payoff. Thankfully the stories didn’t leave the hard work of implementing an EMR out. Therefore I loved the article from Health Leaders Media. Here’s a little play by play of the 5 stories:

Phase 1: The Spark
This woman is courageous. Running a solo practice by herself with one part time medical assistant. Talk about thinking outside the box and managing costs. I was super impressed by this ladies thought process. I imagine this type of gyn practice allows her a lot of freedom. More importantly for this site was that she sunk $70,000 into an EMR system. I hope those reading this will know that you don’t need to spend that much money. EMR programs shouldn’t cost nearly that much money. Espescially for a solo practice. She does point out an important point to remember with an EMR program. Buy the upgrade package. You don’t want your EMR stagnant. Stay with the latest and greatest in EMR development. Don’t get left behind on an old EMR system where a few years down the road you’ll have to upgrade again.

Phase 2: The Vendor Search
Excellent story of EMR vendor selection failure but eventual EMR implementation success. It really makes me sad that an EMR vendor the size of NextGen couldn’t deliver in this story. I guess kudos go out to Companions EMR software (which I’ve never heard of) for helping them be a success. I still think the story needs more detail on what happened with the second EMR vendor. It’s only fair to compare the differences between the EMR failure and EMR success.

Phase 3: The Installation
This story seemed quite off target. Why would they use a home grown EMR system to Illustrate the installation phase of an EMR? Programming and implementing your own EMR system, besides being a crazy idea, is not a good example for those implementing an EMR package. I’ll push that aside and say that there were some good points in the story.
-Katrina proved that EMR’s are essential
-Continuing testing and reworking your EMR processes
-Have physician champions
I loved that they actually payed an IT salary to a few of the doctors who helped test their EMR system. That’s thinking outside the box.

Phase 4: The Payoff
Be careful comparing financial rewards of one clinic with another. They are too hard to compare. I think it is important to see the clinical outcomes he is able to show because of an EMR. If your EMR breaks you even and provides your patients better care then I call that a Win. This should be the hope and expectation when starting an EMR implementation. Isn’t healthier patients payoff enough?

Phase 5: The Future
The Quote of the article:
For six months, I lived EMR.
This pretty much describes most implementation and the reason I got the job I did. They needed me to live EMR. Now you see why I call it the EMR experience. I think a lot more could be said about what EMR will allow a doctor to do in the future. This fifth EMR story doesn’t even do the future justice. It does point out one great monetary key to EMR implementation. Transcription cost savings can be a key driver for purchasing an EMR program.