Three causes of EHR failure

Sometimes practices make mistakes in selecting EHR software. According to some surveys, over 50% of practices with EHR software experience some form of dissatisfaction with their system after implementation. What are the three most common, and what steps can a practice take to minimize the impact?

Before discussing what causes EHR failures, it is important to understand what constitutes an EHR failure. It can be defined objectively as an inability to perform its required function, or subjectively as a failure to live up to expectations. Either situation is largely preventable in the planning phase of EHR implementation, as practices can take steps to select a product that fits their practice’s strategic goals and fit within their organizational culture.

Although there is always a risk of EHR failure in varying degrees, practices can insulate themselves from a large amount of risk through identifying common areas of EHR failure and taking steps to mitigate the risk. The following list outlines three common causes of EHR failure, and steps you should consider to stop your implementation going wrong.

1. Cutting corners on due diligence and research

Researching vendors and matching this information up with an internal needs assessment can reduce the risk of satisfaction issues in which the EHR may be suitable in for other providers but may not be a good fit in its current setting. Understanding a vendor’s performance not only in delivering on its main value propositions, but also in providing customer and technical support for practices can eliminate a potentially bad fit.

Recommended reading: make sure your next EHR doesn’t fail by selecting one suitable for your practice. Download our completely objective and up-to-date EHR vendor directory.

2. Failure to set clear objectives and collaborative with main stakeholders

Providers often approach the issue of EHRs without objectives as to what strategic benefits will be gained from this technology. Of course, meaningful use attestation plays a significant role in shaping the strategic vision of providers; however, the benefits to be gained from an EHR should evolve from simply being in compliance with Meaningful Use standards to assisting a practice in meeting strategic goals. Practices often make the mistake of not setting clear goals, which, in turn, makes it difficult to use an EHR to its full advantage.

One method of overcoming this common contributor to EHR failure is to incorporate stakeholders in the planning and goal setting process. In an article published in CMIO, Robert Budman, MD, CMIO at Yuma Regional Medical Center in Yuma, Arizona proposes a collaborative goal setting process .“What I like to do is get my computer analysts, nurses, physicians, and leaders together and ask, ‘what are we trying to accomplish?’ Let’s forget about how you do things now, but tell me what you want to do and let’s see how we can build that into our current EHR and various systems that are interfaced to do that better."

3. Consider the importance of change management

A new EHR invokes the process of change management or reorienting practices and resources in a way that avoids disruption. Change management not only concerns buy in from users but also aligning organizational culture with the goals an EHR can facilitate. For example, if a provider selects an EHR that does not possess strong data analytics capabilities, yet the provider’s organizational goals involve using data to improve quality in the future one can cite this as an example of poor change management in that the technology does not align with the organizational goals and culture.

When considering the fundamental causes of EHR failure it is important to consider that there uncontrollable factors that just cannot be taken into account. There are, however, steps you can take to minimize the risk that this will happen.

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Jeff Green

About the author…

Jeff Green, MPH, JD works as a freelance writer and consultant in the Healthcare information Technology Space.

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Jeff Green