Lessons Learned from Failed EMR Implementations

Posted on May 18, 2011 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.

One of my favorite EMR people, Matt Chase from Medtuity, wrote this interesting comment over on EMR Update.

Times are achanging. I think a recent install is a good example. The group purchased a decently well-known EMR and it failed. So they went with a second well-known EMR and it failed. Both were certified. Both had a very active sales team. The second one flew in some upper level sales people from the coast when there was talk of deinstall.

After spending half of the national debt and a looming closure of the practice, they called in a consultant. He made his recommendation. They did their demo and they asked the really hard questions– show me how to create new clinical content, show me how to create a new template, edit an existing one, how to fax a single encounter to another practitioner, then multiple encounters but not all encounters of a patient, track any lab value over time, send a reminder to a staff member, assign faxes and scans, etc, etc. Their list was very long. They did not want to hear promises and they did not want a canned demo. They wanted to see the software perform the steps that were lacking (but promised present) in their previous software.

The underlying theme here is that practices believe that certification is truly a functional seal of approval. It is not. Secondly, because certification exists and so many EMRs (>450) are certified, it implies a mature product offering– like buying a hard drive or a computer. You can expect certain functionality to be present simply because the maturity of the market would have eliminated the company. Unfortunately, just the opposite is true.

Just this week I learned that a very large practice in our town is out shopping another EMR. Yes, they have a certified one, but they certainly aren’t paperless.

Functionality will become the watchword of EMR, not certification.

That’s some interesting projections. I remember one EMR vendor telling me that a large portion of their sales were to existing EMR users. In fact, I think they said that there favorite implementations were existing users that were switching to their EMR. I also love the observation of how much better an organization is at selecting an EMR the second time they do it.