The 7 Deadly Sins of EMR implementation

Congratulations! You've committed to an EMR, which is an accomplishment in itself. But the hardest part is still to come: getting it to work.

From failing to plan to skipping out on training, many mistakes can be made during the implementation process. And although they may not be as juicy as wrath, envy or lust, the Seven Deadly Sins of EMR implementation could wreak just as much havoc.

Steve Waldren, MD, director of the American Academy of Family Physicians' Center for Health IT, and Rosemarie Nelson, principal of the MGMA Consulting Group, gave us the worst sins providers can commit during EMR implementation.

[See also: Top 5 worst EMR myths.]

 1. Not doing your homework:  Avoiding supplier problems means background research and thorough evaluations of vendors and products. And beware: vendors tend to make promises they can't keep. According to Waldren, it's important to get the specifics down on paper. "Often, a doctor will ask if [an EMR] can do this or that, and a vendor will say yes. Then, they're surprised when in reality, it doesn't. Doctors need to make sure all expectations are met in writing."

2. Assuming the EMR is a magic bullet
: It's important to remember the EMR is a conversion, not an upgrade. Although the system will save you time and money in the long run, Waldren warns it isn't an instant fix to issues in the workplace. "Most people think an EMR solves problems," he said. "But an EMR will only amplify problems that already exist in the practice."

3. Not including nurses in the planning stages
: Nelson says doctors tend to think a new EMR is all about them. "They don't think about how much the nurse preps the chart, how often the nurse presents information to them, and how much the nurse handles patients over the phone," she said. Having nurses involved from the beginning avoids future conflicts, and considering their thoughts on product selection and implementation will only help with workflow. "[The implementation] needs to be done with the support of staff; everyone needs to be involved," added Waldren.

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