Weight Loss Compared to EMR Implementation

Posted on April 26, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

If you’ve read this blog for a while you know that I love to compare EMR implementation to other parts of life. It’s always amazing to me how similar other parts of life are to EMR selection and implementation. In case, you’re a newer reader, go and read my posts comparing EMR to Marriage (also talks about divorcing your EMR), EMR implementation to Pregnancy, and Marrying an EMR for Money (VERY important with all this EMR stimulus money). A presentation on comparing EMR to life would be a fun presentation to give, but I digress.

The other day I came across a comparison that will be familiar to all types of people, but doctors will be acutely aware of this comparison (even more so than I). EMR implementation is very much like weight loss. Yes, that’s right. Weight Loss!

Think about it, there are a lot of similarities. Most patients that need to lose weight know that they need to lose weight. Deep down they really know they need to lose weight, but a part of them is still trying to argue that they don’t need to lose weight. A part of them still kind of wonders, “what’s so wrong with being overweight?” Sounds like many doctors looking at an EMR implementation. They know deep down that they need to implement an EMR. However, they just keep asking themselves “Why can’t I just keep using paper charts?”

No doubt many older people that are overweight have basically given up the fight to lose weight. They figure that they’re older and they have no need for weight loss anymore. Sound a bit like older doctors and how they approach EMR?

Of course, the most interesting comparison between weight loss and EMR implementation comes when applied to the actual implementation itself. Weight loss requires a huge change in someone’s life. Thus, it usually requires a lot of “hand holding” and reminders about the value of losing weight. They’ll often lose motivation and need someone to pick them up and help them continue to make the changes in their life so they can lose weight.

No doubt implementing an EMR requires change. Weight loss is about changing habits. EMR implementations are about changing habits too. Often they are habits which were instilled many years ago during medical school. I don’t have to describe why changing habits are hard (although, here’s a couple change pictures to illustrate what I mean). That’s why so many people have a challenge losing weight and why so many people have avoided implementing an EMR.

Yes, and most EMR implementations require a certain amount of hand holding along the way. That’s more a feature of change than anything else. The real question a clinic should be asking themselves is who will be doing the hand holding. The answer might surprise you when you find out that it will likely not be one person, but many.