EHR: there’s a difference between finished and done

The phone rang last fall. It was the school nurse asking me if I would come pick up my seven year-old son. When I inquired as to the reason she informed me he exhibited the classic symptoms of the crud; tummy-ache, non-responsive, crying. She’s the nurse, so without better information, who was I to question her diagnosis?

We got into the car and the tears started to come again. “Do you feel like you’re going to be sick?” I asked as I looked at the leather upholstery. He didn’t answer me other than to whimper. He didn’t seem sick at breakfast. I remembered that he was crying last night, but that had nothing to do with his stomach. At first I thought it was related to the thunder. Nope. He was hugging his favorite dog, a five year-old Bichon.

We had learned a few weeks prior that the Bichon is ill and won’t ever be a six year-old Bichon. The person having the most difficulty with it is my youngest. I asked him if that was why he was crying in class and he confirmed that it was. Dads know everything, at least some times.

So, here’s the deal. The school nurse had done all the right things to diagnose my son’s problem, but she stopped short of determining what was wrong. Let’s try a more relevant situation from the perspective of an EHR implementation.  The word implementation sort of suggests that when you reach the point of having implemented that there’s nothing left to do.

There’s finished and then there’s complete.  Finished doesn’t mean the task is over until the system does what it was supposed to do.  Sort of like when W landed on the aircraft carrier.  If you didn’t do a good job of defining it up front you may never know the breadth of what was intended for the EHR.  In the case of EHR, done includes change management, work flow engineering, training, and user acceptance.

The point is, if it looks like you finished the EHR implementation, double check that you have before you take a bow. Technology alone will not an EHR implementation make, it is simply a part of the overall task.

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One thought on “EHR: there’s a difference between finished and done

  1. Completely agree Paul. And to put this in perspective, isn’t meaningful use kinda like being “finished”. i.e. – you checked off the boxes, congratulations. But what does that really mean in terms of how much better off your practice is. Are you more efficient now? Has patient care truly improved? Those types of questions are what drive the need to go beyond meaningful use, and into profitable use ( http://profitableuse.com ).

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