10 EHR implementation stats every project manager should know

EHR implementation can be a difficult process from both the execution standpoint and from the standpoint of determining areas in which other practices have experienced barriers or have been successful. The following studies offer an illustration of EHR implementation stats every project manager should know.

1. Project management and nursing staff involvement

A 2015 study shows that success in implementation requires focusing on project management and the involvement nursing staff in the implementation process. Respondents were surveyed on what factors they believed contributed to the success to an EHR implementation in which they were involved. Ranking a range of factors on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 representing the most important, involvement of nursing staff and and project management such as a thorough implementation planning  were the most highly rated as hallmarks of successful implementations. These factors rated significantly higher than on larger organizational issues and involving only leadership in implementation decisions.

2. EHR implementation challenges

Survey data from the American Hospital Association’s Annual Survey Information Technology Supplement showed that the four most frequently cited barriers from the survey responses  “obtaining physician cooperation” “ongoing costs of maintaining and upgrading systems;” “upfront capital costs” and “complexity of meeting Meaningful Use criteria within implementation timeline” as the most challenging implementation features.

These factors outranked other concerns regarding the financial impact of implementation, technology barriers and data security.

3. Training as a vital concern in implementation

A study of EHR implementation in new clinics interviewed staff asking them questions concerning the implementation process in their practice. The following ten main themes emerged in their answers:” impeding patient flow, hindering communication in office, improving communication after the visit, improving tracking of patient care, spending less time with patients, requiring more training, wanting more features, diminishing productivity, appreciating benefits of templates, and enhancing internal communication.”  Overall the need for better training ranked as the most important concern among staff.

4. Covering costs with incentive payments

A study reported in Medical Economics indicated that nearly 45% of physicians from a national survey reported that incentive payments under the EHR Meaningful Use incentive program were inadequate to cover the costs of implementation, training, annual licensing fees, hardware and associated services. The most significant dramatic unanticipated costs were associated increased staffing costs, coupled with a loss in physician productivity.

5. Hardware-software, peripheral and network connections

In a Medical Economics study of thirty primary care practices, these practices spent, on average spent, $5,900 on purchases related to hardware, software, peripherals, and network connections. Thirty primary care physicians (PCPs) are participating in the Medical Economics EHR Best Practices Study, which began in January and will continue for two years.

6. Lost productivity

A study conducted by Medical Economics shows during implementation “you can expect to see up to 50% fewer patients.”

7. Unanticipated costs

A survey reported in Medical Economics tracking unanticipated cos found in the first six months of an implementation averaged $6,516 in unintended cost consisting primarily of about half of the practices averaging $3,094 for "IT and other outside support" costs.

8. Average implementation costs for multi-physician practices

A study published in Health Affairs, surveying 26 primary care practices in North Texas implemented an EHR across their medical network found that a typical multi-physician practice would spend about $162,000 to implement an EHR, with $85,500 for first-year maintenance costs. They also estimated that the implementation teams spent approximately 611 hours "preparing for and implementing" the EHR system.

9. Physician experiences of implementation barriers

Doctors surveyed before and after an EHR implementation listed the barriers to their implementations were, in order of importance: the cost of the systems, clinicians’ concerns about technically supporting a system, and the clinicians’ ability to use the new system 

10. Stakeholder and vendor experiences regarding keys to success

A 2015 study surveyed stakeholders in practices were asked to list what they considered the top implementation issues. Of the 17 issues identified in the survey responses the top three during-implementation issues were nurse project support, physician project support, and management project support . The bottom-ranked issue was cost/benefit analysis (#17).

The statistics presented above, offer snapshots into a number of areas that can present barriers and opportunities for improvement. With the themes presented in these studies, project managers can construct a more informed implementation plan that can hopefully mitigate some of the problems that can plague EHR implementations.

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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