As some of you may know — if you read the EMRandEHR.com blog — I recently had an experience which set a fine example as to how much health IT can help hospitals when deployed well and supported by smart training. In short, a family member just had an effective, focused trip through a hugely busy ED, largely due, I believe to the technology it uses.
The hospital has deployed the Picis electronic document management system, along, seemingly, with traffic control modules, to strip much of the fat away from a patient’s trip through the ED.
With staff clicking away happily, patients moving in and out promptly and physicians having easy access to patient histories, med lists test results and more in one easy-to-access place, I saw a pretty neat ballet in place.
The truth is, however, that this seems to be an exception rather than the rule. Far more hospitals I’ve visited seem to have taken a heavy-handed, training-light approach to introducing their EMR. (One facility had installed screensavers on staff desktops that read “Cerner is coming.” I can’t imagine this gave any employees a big thrill, or helped them get prepared.)
Actually, when I passed through the same facility later, I saw flustered-looking nurses trying desperately to get simple transactions done, forming an insecure cluster together as they tried to help a colleague enter some observations. Thaaaat didn’t give me a nice, secure feeling about the hospital’s odds of making clinical mistakes.
I hate to say this, but I think the odds of a hospital IT department changing its culture enough to truly support EMR users is pretty darned small. My guess is that it will take several years before hospitals have a clue as to how to handle the big, huge change management process their EMR produces. Good luck, guys.