Early on in my EHR implementation experience I had an enlightening moment. In the clinic I was working at, we decided to just do a partial implementation of the EHR software in order for us to replace the scheduling and billing side of our current processes. The clinic was using some old scantron like billing technology that needed to be replaced quickly. So, instead of leaving behind the paper charts, we decided to start by just implementing part of the EHR to start.
As part of this partial EHR implementation we had the clinicians entering the diagnosis and charge capture into a note in the EHR. After a couple weeks of doing this, I was sitting with one of the providers and she said, “John, why can’t I just enter my note right here where it says subjective and objective instead of in the paper chart?” After hearing this, I went to the director’s office and told her what I’d heard. We realized it was a tremendous opportunity for us to finish the full EHR implementation.
It was quite an interesting realization to have them driving us to implement more of the features. I think we see this phenomenon in other areas as well.
I was talking with the hospital CTO of Intermountain, Fred Holston, about their new mobile CPOE app they built together with MModal. I asked if he was concerned about adoption of the CPOE app. It seemed that it was possible that they built an app that doctors would just choose not to use. Fred made some suggestions about why he thought this wouldn’t be an issue, but then he offered an even more valuable insight. Fred suggested that their bigger concern wasn’t whether doctors would use the CPOE mobile app. Instead, they were more concerned that once they rolled out the CPOE mobile app that doctors would start asking for a whole laundry list of other features and applications that were similar to it. Were they ready for that onslaught of requests?
Yesterday, I got a demo of the latest version of the Sfax secure faxing software (Full Disclosure: Sfax is an advertiser on this site.). During the demo, I asked about another possible feature and a really good comment was made, “Once you roll out new features, people start asking for even more features.” We then had a nice discussion about how the product development process is never done.
In some cases, the desire for more features can lead to really unhappy users. If we’d not finished the full EHR implementation quickly, no doubt those providers would have hated the product. If Intermountain doesn’t add more of the requested capabilities to their CPOE mobile app, then their users will be unhappy that the app can’t do more. If Sfax doesn’t continue to add features to their product their users will grow unhappy with the service.
However, the opposite is also true. This desire to use technology in new ways can be a real driver of adoption. We didn’t have to sale the providers on the finishing the full EHR implementation. They’d already sold themselves. Sometimes you just have to get the ball rolling when it comes to health IT. Once the ball is rolling, just be ready to keep up with with the new ideas that start coming as people see new possibilities.