Electronic Medical Records: Implementing Change

Introduction

The establishment of the electronic medical record (EMR) structures is a complex issue bearing in mind the challenges encountered in any business procedure reengineering attempts. The president-elect of America, Barack Obama in his plan to restore the economy has promised a substantial effort to advance medical care by introducing electronic medical records in all the health facilities. The plan will be implemented by computerizing all the medical records within five years (Goldman, 2009, par.1). The federal government in America is preparing to use approximately 20 million dollars in incentives money to refund the providers of electronic medical records deployment.

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Problem Statement

Deployment of electronic records into the health facilities is not cheap or easy. For instance, several problems could prevent the U.S. from receiving its $20 billion which has been set apart to improve the health sector. Implementation of an EMR system requires a strong management team and a strong vision of the system’s objectives. For example, Fletcher Allen Health Care took s big bang approach to its EMR and other correlated clinical systems. This meant that the EMR was to be implemented in a 500-plus bed health center within the organization which was finished hurriedly instead of taking several years (Kolbasuk, 2009, par.2). This was an effective approach especially the use of 60 million dollars to complete the project within 15 months. This first phase included the implementation of EMR software from Epic to the emergency department, inpatients, pharmacy, and physician documentation system. They did not waste a lot of time that’s why they did not miss the deadlines as many of the healthcare facilities do as they try to perfect every step they carry out.

Most of the health care providers argue that they do not have enough time to learn the new technology. Change is important but on the hard, it is hard to adapt. Though the physicians are complaining about the cumbersome work involved with paperwork, they still do not want to embrace the new idea of EMR. There is only 4 to 15 percent of the health facilities in the nation which are using EMR today. According to Keeler as cited by Koch, (1994, par.1) introduction of EMR technology is beneficial to all personnel working in any health facility. Previously, the physicians used to carry out referrals and conferences by use phones but by the invention of EMR, they can now attach messages with specific content for reaction by their colleagues. EMR has made their communication easier since the nurses can write a message to the doctors on the system and doctors can also prescribe and send the message to the pharmacist. Therefore, implementation of EMR is important since the nurses say that, the use of the EMR saves them about one hour in every shift which is attributed to 1.2 million dollars every year (Koch, 1994, par.4).

With the serious deadline for implementation of electronic medical records almost forthcoming, increased medical care costs, and rising need to contact the patient’s data at all the areas in a hospital, most of the healthcare personnel (physicians and information technology professionals) are preparing to adopt the technology into their facilities or organizations (Mirro, 2009, par.1).

Healthcare providers supporting and those opposing the EMR implementation

Approximately seven out of ten healthcare practitioners believe that the EMR technology will be beneficial to their organizations and patient care. However, 80% say that the main hindrance to deploying the EMR systems is inadequate money. An e-mailed investigation of 508 healthcare practitioners nationwide (US) including nursing homes, hospitals, clinics, home healthcare organizations, and private medical practices showed that approximately 40% plan to continue with the deployment of electronic medical records within 12 months. On the other hand, 50% of the healthcare practitioners opposed the idea and said that the federal incentive will not support successfully the implementation of health information technology (Kolbasuk, 2009, p.8). Change is good but it is also hard to adapt to it. Even though the healthcare providers are complaining about the large amount of work involved in paper medical records, some do not want to learn the new technology of EMR.

Importance of EMR

Proper implementation of EMR technology will bring a change in the ways healthcare providers work in large hospitals and the small workplaces of doctors. The health practitioners will improve the quality of health care provided and lower the expenses (Kolbasuk, 2009, par.1).

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The exchange of information is very essential for effective service delivery in health systems. Despite what the health practitioners want the patients to require their health information to be in a position to travel in confidential and safe ways. Therefore, the public policy in the US is making it simple to exchange health information and form a marketplace for health information exchange by offering the hospitals and physicians incentives to those who deserve it (Kolbasuk, 2009,p.5).

Discussion

Implementation of EMR system in the health facilities can be successful by using the following concepts:

  • Team involvement
  • Vision that has clear objectives
  • Develop the knowledge of the staff
  • Move in small steps
  • Improve communication systems
  • Give feedback within a culture of improvement
  • Implement EMR into the medical practice to increase healthcare effectiveness

By emphasizing the ideas mentioned above, the procedure of deploying the EMR system in the primary health and healthcare providers can be made understandable on what they want to change to, the importance of the change, and how effective they can reach there(Nemeth, Feifer, Stuart & Ornstein, 2008, p.5).

According to Kolbasuk (2009, p.1), there are nine lessons learned from the EMR veterans and they include:

  • Preparation for sticker shock especially in big hospitals.
  • All the healthcare providers need to be involved in the use of the system.
  • With the help of an expert like the health information technology advisory, the system will function properly.
  • The EMR should be deployed according to the needs of the practitioner because if an integrated system uses the EMR with the performance management system it will be effective
  • Deploying the EMR may look interesting but the recommendation by veterans is that one should start slowly.
  • Health care providers require training on information technology.
  • After EMR implementation, one should expect the productivity to lower for the first few weeks.
  • It is important to plan for the future
  • One should be in a position to manage the future expectations.

Conclusion

In conclusion implementation of electronic medical records can advance medical care and improve the quality of health care provided by health practitioners. The major concepts that can lead to the successful deployment of the EMR in an organization are clear set objectives and team involvement.

Reference

Goldman, D., (2009). Obama’s big idea: Digital health records. Web.

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Koch, C. (2009).Off the Charts Electronic Records at Medical Center. Web.

Kolbasuk, M. (2009). Nine Lessons Learned From E-Medical Record Veterans. Web.

Kolbasuk, M. (2009). Tenacity Matters in E-Medical Record Projects. Web.

Kolbasuk, M. (2009). E-Health: One Step Closer To All Those Stimulus Bucks (PDF file). Web.

Mirro, M. (2009). Minimally Invasive, Incremental Approach to EMRs. Web.

Nemeth, S., Feifer, C.,Stuart, W.& Ornstein. M. (2006).Implementing change in primary care practices using electronic medical records: a conceptual framework (PDF file). Web.

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