The 7 Deadly Sins of EMR implementation

By Michelle McNickle
02:23 PM
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4. Not participating in training: Don't undervalue the importance of training, since failure to provide and partake in it will only allow chaos to ensue come go-live time. Nelson said if a vendor suggests a nurse spend six hours on training and a doctor four, then do it. "Microsoft made us think everything is plug and play; the same with a MacBook," she said. "They think 'I can do the same thing with an EMR.' The difference is, it's a complicated environment with a lot of regulation, coding, and documentation. You have to dedicate the time for training."

5. Thinking you can implement the same processes as paper
: Just as the EMR won't be a quick fix to problems in the practice, it will also require different processes than paper. "EMRs require process reengineering," said Waldren. The two ways of documenting data may seem similar, but they are based on considerably different workflows.

6. Not asking for extra help:  A detrimental mistake Nelson often sees is groups thinking they can implement an EMR without asking for help. According to her, staff is already burdened with work. Thinking they can take on a conversion, along with learning a new product and dealing with a change in workflow, could lead to a disaster. "To do the whole thing without having extra people is just creating an opportunity to burn out staff or hamper your productivity," she said. "It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because we're less productive, and we don't have nursing staff to support us."  Nelson suggests bringing in temporary medical assistants to help during the transitional period.

7. Being short sighted: According to Waldren, it's important to find an EMR that supports not just the current healthcare industry, but what the industry will soon become. "You can't be shortsighted [when implementing an EMR]," he said. "It needs to measure quality improvements and populations, like those with diabetes, for example. It can't just measure today -- it has to measure tomorrow."

[See also: 5 keys to EMR usability.]