Sink or Swim After EMR Purchase

Posted on May 13, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and 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 find it really disturbing the number of stories I read about doctors who have purchased an EMR basically being left to ‘sink or swim’ once the EMR purchase and training process is complete. This is not always the case. Some EMR companies really take a vested interest in those who purchase their EMR software. That’s my biggest compliment of the EMR company I work with on a daily basis is that they really did care about us having a successful EMR implementation. I know a number of others who are just as vested in a clinic’s success.

Unfortunately, far too many EMR vendors don’t take a vested interest in a practice and after the purchase and initial training, the practice is basically left to finish the EHR implementation on their own. Let’s take a look at a common example of what happens:
-Clinic purchases EMR software
-Clinic spends a few days training on EMR software
-Clinic sends support request which goes unanswered
-Clinic gets answer to support request a week later

It should also be noted that the few days spent with the trainer is often untargeted and aptly described as a firehouse which mostly leaves those being trained with a huge migraine. Also, it’s worth mentioning that the clinic ends up floundering along for that week they waited to get their support request answered.

Certainly supporting a new EMR implementation is a significant challenge. Many popular EMR vendors have oversold and just don’t have the trained, skilled staff that are needed to support the number of clinics they’re bringing online. That’s not an excuse for the EMR vendor. They should still be held accountable. However, it’s helpful to understand the challenges an EMR vendor faces so you can possibly avoid them.

Like I said previously, not all EMR vendors have this challenge. This being the case, it highlights the need to talk to users of any EMR software you’re considering. Ask them about the type, speed and quality of the support they receive from the company as a current user and what support they received when implementing that EMR vendor. Also, try to talk to someone who recently implemented that EMR software. Much like a new mother forgets the pains of child birth, EMR implementation pains disappear from memory (see my previous post on EMR and Pregnancy). Plus, in most EMR companies the support and training changes over time as employees come and go. The more recent the support experience the better.

At the end of the day, an EHR implementation does require a determination to ‘sink or swim.’ However, it’s much easier to swim when you have someone throwing you a line along the way.