Change in an EMR Implementation

I love when EMR sales people try to say that doing an EMR implementation will be just the same as what they’re doing now, but electronically. While this might be true in many respects there’s no way you can get around change. It’s an essential part of an EMR implementation. I apologize if you’re tired of hearing about this topic since I’ve talked about it over and over (some nice pictures on this one) and over again in the last 4 years. I just think it’s important that people have realistic expectations.

One thing I recently heard at a conference was related to change in an EMR implementation. They said that you should “Change Enough to matter, but not so far that you have to change jobs.”

I loved that description. It describes perfectly the need to change something of substance so that people want to change and that they see progress being made. However, you don’t want to go after everything and fail. This is why many people including myself often recommend the phased in approach to an EMR implementation.

One other important aspect when change is about to happen during an EMR implementation. You must prepare staff for why you are changing. If you don’t, it’s a recipe for failure. The fact of the matter for an EMR implementation is that users are likely to lose some functionality and gain some functionality. We all deal with these changes a little better if we know about them beforehand.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • John,

    Your quote about change from the conference is very apt. As the top business development person at a healthcare IT company (we make web-based and mobile charge capture and patient sign-out applications), I talk to many physicians who voice the same concern about having to relearn what they already know so well. Good point. Why should they do that?

    I’ve found the best way to allay that concern is simply to let the product stand on its own two feet. If a physician agrees they will need very little or no training to use the product after they’ve seen it, you’re on to something. The tough part for companies is getting to that point in the first place. Surprise – that requires a lot of discussion with physicians during development.

    John Bader
    Lime Medical

  • John,

    I was also at a conference recently (MGMA Denver) and a nice quote I heard at a break out session was “let doctors be doctors, not data entry people”. MY comapny has been in IT support for medical practices for over 20yrs. I’m new to the industry so putting this overwhelming buzz in simlple perspective hit home. The EMR is a tool that will make them more money, save time, and help eliminate error. Not help them be docs. There are so many options you really have enough of a choice in EMR’s to limit the level of change based on the culture of the practice. Determining the docs comfort level will help guide in the evaluation.

    Jim Taylor
    Stemp Systems

  • Jim,
    I like that quote as well. Sadly, doctors are becoming data entry clerks and ICD 10 is going to make that even worse I think.

    I think the real challenge is that there are TOO many options and so doctors are overwhelmed by the choices and then just set it aside.

  • Suggest that EHR focus more on having the patients enter the data: ask doctors to spell out their concerns or set up link with each doctor’s medical evaluation. The focus on the doctor should be looked at more carefully. It is perhaps time to shift this forus to the patient and use other professions in hc to facilitate the records. In a sense, this facilitates the day when alot of medical information/procedures will be available via software.

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