EMR Success Depends on Proper EMR Access

With all of the focus being on all the various regulatory requirements (meaningful use, ACOs, ICD-10, 5010), I think there’s a real issue brewing in healthcare IT because we’re not focusing on other IT issues. As a hospital works on their EHR implementation strategy, it’s easy for them to focus a lot of time and effort to make sure that they meet the meaningful use attestation requirements. This is important, because if they don’t focus on meaningful use, then they’ll never meet the meaningful use measures. However, in the process I’m starting to see many institutions that short change the IT part of the EMR equation.

This point was really driven home to me when I was reading “Tips for Ensuring EMR Access = Success” on the Point of Care Corner blog. Here’s a great paragraph from that blog that highlights the challenge:

An effective access-point strategy must also support a safe, ergonomic workplace that enables caregivers to focus on patients rather than “hunting and gathering” the tools and information they need. Most nurses walk many miles per shift. With good planning, they will not need to add to that total looking for an open computer to enter or view patient information.

Unfortunately, in the rush to implement meaningful use of a certified EHR by the deadlines, many institutions aren’t spending the time required to make sure that EMR access is available when and where it’s needed.

The good part of this story is that you can still correct this problem after the fact. Plus, it’s not that hard once a hospital CIO places focus on it. However, it does take a focused effort. Ideally you would have worked through the EMR access issues during your EMR implementation, but it shouldn’t be any surprise that you weren’t able to plan for all of your unseen EMR access needs. So making sure you plan a review after your EMR has been in place is essential.

There is nothing more demoralizing to a user of an EMR than to not be able to get into the EMR when they need it. Although, many times EMR users won’t know what they need until after they’ve been using the EMR for a little while. There’s nothing more valuable than experience to inform decisions. Plus, technology is constantly changing, so you’ll want to consider how new technologies can make your EMR users’ lives better.

This issue reminds me of a comment Will Weider, CIO of Ministry Health Care, made in this interview. When asked what project he thought didn’t get enough attention in the hospital, he answered that it was the need to abandon Windows XP by the time Microsoft ends support. Evaluating EMR access points is another issue that I think doesn’t get enough regular attention. It’s unfortunate, because it can make an extremely big difference in what your EMR users think about their EMR experience.

Full Disclosure: Metro is a sponsor of EMR and HIPAA