The process of implementing electronic medical records (EMR) involves a lot of moving parts. Hospitals must find the right software vendor, work with that vendor customize the EMR system to the facility's needs, ensure that the software interacts with other programs that the facility uses—the list goes on and on.
Hospital leaders should pay as much attention to how the process of EMR affects end-users—particularly physicians—as they pay to the process of selecting and designing the software. Physicians are the hospital's primary source of revenue, and hospitals run the risk of losing some physicians who feel that they don't have the time to learn new software. Therefore, ensuring that their experience is trouble free should be a top priority. The following are five things every hospital should do for physicians when implementing electronic medical records.
Medical staffs should identify physician champions—ideally one champion per department, in addition to one champion for the medical staff as a whole. Physicians champions should attend all meetings related to EMR, answer questions from medical staff members, and spend face time with those who are resistant to change.
Physician leaders should form an EMR committee. At Tucson Medical Center (TMC), the vice president of medical affairs led this committee and included members of the medical executive committee and others who showed considerable interest in EMR. The committee met twice a month for almost a year to work out what features the EMRs would have, how it would operate, and what it would look like, says Elizabeth Warren, RN, director of professional staff services at TMC.