EHR is the Life Blood of a Practice

Posted on March 19, 2009 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.

I’m often amazed at how many people underestimate the impact that an EHR implementation will affect a practice. Actually, maybe far too many people understand this and that’s why EHR adoption is so low. What worries me is that so many of those people that do implement an EHR completely underestimate the impact that an EHR will have on their practice.

Let me try and make the case about how important an EHR is to a clinical practice. I do this not to try and discourage people from implementing. Instead, I do this to encourage people to take the EHR selection and implementation process more seriously. The decisions you make in regards to which EHR you choose will have lasting impacts on your clinical practice.

Let’s take a look at why this is the case. An EHR is part of EVERYTHING you’ll do in a clinical practice. I can’t think of one part of a practice that isn’t directly affected by an EHR (I’m assuming it’s an EHR and PMS). Everything from how you move patients through the clinic to how you handle phone calls will be impacted by your choice in EHR.

Your EHR will become the center of your universe. This is true for the front desk staff, the nurses, the business office and the doctors. No one really goes unaffected except maybe the janitor, but they’re probably a contract worker anyway.

The reality is that you’re going to spend more time working in your EHR than you do with patients. Yes, that does sound wrong to say. It feels wrong to even type it here, but it’s the reality. However, don’t think that this is something new. You could have previously said that you spend more time doing paper charts than you actually spent with patients. Until we go back to the Little House on the Prairie days with one doctor who didn’t document anything, this will be life as we know it.

Now, doctors shouldn’t think that this situation is all that unique. Technology people often end up spending more time doing paperwork, policies and procedures, proposals etc than they do actually working on tech. I’m sure there’s 100 other examples of similar situations. Of course, the point really is that you’re going to spend a lot of time on your EHR. If you’re going to be spending so much time on the EHR, then it seems like the EHR selection and implementation decisions should not be made lightly.

Ok, still don’t believe me that an EHR is the core of a clinical practice? Think about this.

If EHR isn’t the core of the operation, then why do clinics run so slowly when an EHR is implemented? They run slow, because it is the heart of the clinic.

If EHR isn’t the core of the operation, then why do clinics literally shut down when they can’t connect to their EHR?
They shut down, because it is the heart of the clinic.