How Many Doctors Does It Take To Doom An EMR Installation?

Q: How many doctors does it take to doom an EMR installation?  A: Only one, even if everyone else wants to change.

OK, maybe that’s too harsh, but it does bring home a key point. When you’re trying to build support for your EMR launch, you’re probably best advised to root out potential naysayers and empower them to the dickens rather than trotting out your cheerleader (whoops, EHR champion) and having them make inspiring speeches.

I was thinking about this the other day at a local professional gathering, when one of the speakers made a remark that stayed with me.  A vendor executive, whose candor impressed the heck out of me, said the following: “You may not find any champions to drive your EHR installation, but you’ll always get at least one cynic.”

Amen, sister. It’s just human nature. No matter how bright and sparkly your software installation is, you’ll always have someone who just doesn’t like it and roots for it to fail. Unfortunately, if your application is an EMR, that someone may be a physician, who could — depending on their professional and social clout — talk your project into the ground.

Sadly, it’s often the people who know the least about something new that give it the worst rap, and my sense is that EMR projects are no different.

Beware the physician that hangs on the sidelines, slips away early during training sessions and doesn’t ask many questions. You may be more worried about the doctors that complain loudly, and heaven knows you should address their concerns, but sometimes the clinicians who quietly opt out are just as damaging to EHR user morale.

So, at the risk of being a real pain, I invite you to consider this: does your organization face internal dissent from clinicians who haven’t been given the attention they deserve? Are you taking silence for support?  And most importantly, do you have a strategy for making your cynics happy?

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.


  • So true! And as you said, many just don’t have all the facts about the new solution, so if you can educate those cynics on the value of the conversion and implementation; how much more information they will have, the better patient care they can provide, and the advantages of data collection and reporting to understand practice and diagnosis trends, they can also be turned into the greatest advocates within the practice. Great post!

  • Having overseen many installs over a decade plus, I have come to appreciate the role of the “cynic”. He/she keeps the spotlight on and this ensures that the work is double checked for completeness and dependability. Typically, I will include these individuals in milestone reviews, even if it causes a schedule/productivity hit. Generally (though not always), the objectors will get on board with the program after observing that their sensitivities are being discussed and addressed, even if not completely resolved.
    In summary, whenever practical, it is best to work with these well-meaning cynics so that they don’t turn into pessimists.

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