Weight Loss Compared to EMR Implementation

If you’ve read this blog for a while you know that I love to compare EMR implementation to other parts of life. It’s always amazing to me how similar other parts of life are to EMR selection and implementation. In case, you’re a newer reader, go and read my posts comparing EMR to Marriage (also talks about divorcing your EMR), EMR implementation to Pregnancy, and Marrying an EMR for Money (VERY important with all this EMR stimulus money). A presentation on comparing EMR to life would be a fun presentation to give, but I digress.

The other day I came across a comparison that will be familiar to all types of people, but doctors will be acutely aware of this comparison (even more so than I). EMR implementation is very much like weight loss. Yes, that’s right. Weight Loss!

Think about it, there are a lot of similarities. Most patients that need to lose weight know that they need to lose weight. Deep down they really know they need to lose weight, but a part of them is still trying to argue that they don’t need to lose weight. A part of them still kind of wonders, “what’s so wrong with being overweight?” Sounds like many doctors looking at an EMR implementation. They know deep down that they need to implement an EMR. However, they just keep asking themselves “Why can’t I just keep using paper charts?”

No doubt many older people that are overweight have basically given up the fight to lose weight. They figure that they’re older and they have no need for weight loss anymore. Sound a bit like older doctors and how they approach EMR?

Of course, the most interesting comparison between weight loss and EMR implementation comes when applied to the actual implementation itself. Weight loss requires a huge change in someone’s life. Thus, it usually requires a lot of “hand holding” and reminders about the value of losing weight. They’ll often lose motivation and need someone to pick them up and help them continue to make the changes in their life so they can lose weight.

No doubt implementing an EMR requires change. Weight loss is about changing habits. EMR implementations are about changing habits too. Often they are habits which were instilled many years ago during medical school. I don’t have to describe why changing habits are hard (although, here’s a couple change pictures to illustrate what I mean). That’s why so many people have a challenge losing weight and why so many people have avoided implementing an EMR.

Yes, and most EMR implementations require a certain amount of hand holding along the way. That’s more a feature of change than anything else. The real question a clinic should be asking themselves is who will be doing the hand holding. The answer might surprise you when you find out that it will likely not be one person, but many.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, 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, EXPO.health, 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.


  • Great post, John. I will definitely try to catch up with your other EMR comparison blogs. This reminds me of a blog our director of product development wrote recently about her experience training on an EMR. (She’s also a registered nurse). She came away with several observations, many of which revolved around various forms of “hand-holding” before, during and after implementation:

    * Pre-implementation training with clinical area customization
    * Post-implementation training once further customization is complete
    * Require both written tests and live charting check-offs for each job description
    * Train-the-trainer with superusers assigned to each shift
    * IT support “walk around” to patient care areas each shift
    * IT help hotline available 24/7
    * Quarterly meetings with both physicians and clinical staff regarding user adoption and best practices. Should we add further diagnostic-specific indicators?
    * Talk with the physicians regularly. Can we streamline patient indicators or standardize CPOE based on specific patient population being treated on our unit? Is there adequate and consistent standardization with other patient care units?
    * Monthly newsletters emailed to all end-users featuring new EMR features and how to resolve frequently asked patient charting challenges. Post on the hospital website as well.

    You can read the rest of her post here:

    Jennifer Dennard
    Billian’s HealthDATA

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