MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA: As public agencies and private entities attempt to rationalize healthcare delivery, there has been a concerted push in many countries to adopt electronic health record systems (EHRs).
According to a new report from Ovum, EHRs are, in essence, another vertical industry enterprise application. Because of parallels with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and other enterprise system projects, healthcare providers are in good position to avoid the mistakes and accelerate time to benefit by learning from the experiences of their counterpart sin manufacturing and service sectors.
“EHRs have become front burner projects in many nations because of their potential to streamline delivery of patient care, while providing practitioners and patients alike the information they need to make smarter therapy and lifestyle decisions, respectively”, said Tony Baer, senior analyst for application lifecycle and integration. For instance, in the US, up to $20 billion in grant moneys will be awarded to healthcare institutions that achieve “meaningful use” of EHRs.
Yet successful EHR implementations that adequately capture care delivery and provide comprehensive information that can eliminate waste, errors, and duplication have proven elusive, both for technical and cultural reasons.
“From an IT perspective, EHR projects are not as unique as they sound,” said Tony Baer. “Like any other industry, change management in healthcare is one of the most difficult barriers to technology adoption,” adds Christine Chang, healthcare technology analyst.
Ovum research has revealed that the vast majority of EHR implementation issues parallel those that accompanied other sectors that implemented enterprise systems.
Like ERP, CRM, and similar initiatives, EHRs touch a critical mass of the organization, from back office to front office and operations. For instance, just as supply chain management systems for manufacturers count inventory and transportation planners, procurement specialists, and operations staff as key stakeholders, EHR systems touch a wide cross-section of hospital staff ranging from physicians to nurses, clinical staff, pharmacologists, back office staff, and admissions.
Like many enterprise business systems that are implemented to strengthen bonds with trading partners and customers, successful EHR initiatives are opening channels to third party affiliated providers and patients seeking greater control over their wellness and treatment options.
Similarly, as with ERP, CRM and other enterprise systems, EHR systems are typically implemented and must coexist with legacy systems that are not likely to be replaced.
Consequently, the recipe for success for EHRs includes:
* Building a sound business case for adoption;
* Mobilizing support across the organization, including gaining a senior management sponsorship to frame the mission and budget the resources, and grassroots buy-in to ensure that the solution is well planned and embraced by the people who will use it;
* Scoping and phasing the project to make adoption realistic;
* Developing an architecture that accommodates and integrates existing systems while preserving flexibility for growth.
Recognizing that the challenges for EHR systems cross national borders, Ovum has included an implementation checklist for providers to get on the right track with their electronic healthcare record initiatives.