It’s always interesting to be the patient once in a while. I had my annual physical this morning, and my doctor happens to be at a hospital that’s going through a big EMR upgrade, first implemented just a few days ago. Both the nurse and the doctor I saw sighed noticeably when sitting down at the application, and of course when I casually asked about the new system, neither had anything positive to say about it. The questionnaire that my doctor was working through included a question about my alcohol consumption, to which I answered “1-2 drinks a week” (CEOs don’t get out much). She tried to type exactly that into the system, but got an error message “Please enter valid data.” She sighed again, and tried to figure out a few other ways to type it, until I suggested that perhaps it only wanted numbers, not letters. Sure enough, that worked. I’m a software guy, she’s an MD. It shouldn’t require a software guy to use.
This system cost many, many millions of dollars, and not only wasted my doctor’s time, but mine. It causes frustration in a high performance team. The error message could easily have said “Please enter a number,” but it didn’t.
By the end of the questionnaire, she stopped typing and was writing the answers on paper with a pen, and told me she’d just type it in later.
Change is hard. Surely in the long run, the new EMR will reduce errors and increase efficiency, making both patients and providers happy. It’s probably the right answer to the organization’s overall problem, but the implementation of any complex system isn’t without hiccups.
As Geonetric introduces new products and services in our clients’ Web sites, patient portals and intranets, we’ve been working hard to make sure that we can help our clients work through these changes by:
- Communicating well throughout the implementation
- Communicating deeply into the organization about the project and its benefits
- Conducting thorough training so that everyone is up to speed well ahead of time
- Measuring outcomes that matter to our clients
The goal is to avoid adoption challenges and frustration.
Change will always be hard, but Geonetric is stepping up. As the technologies and strategies shift, as patients are bigger and more important players in their own healthcare, we all need to be better at change.