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101 Tips to Make Your EMR and EHR More Useful – EHR Tips 96-101

Posted on July 28, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Shawn Riley on HealthTechnica has collected a great list called 101 Tips to Make your EMR and EHR More Useful. I find lists like this really interesting and provide a great point of conversation. So, I’m planning to take the 101 ways, and over 10 or so blog posts, I’m going to cover each suggestion and where appropriate provide some commentary on the tip. I expect it will drive some really interesting conversation.

101. Trust, but verify
This is a fine suggestion. It’s a tough balance to achieve, because you want and need to have the trust of your EHR vendor, because once you’re ready to implement that EHR you’re likely going to ask them for help. Some of the help will be rather easy for them to support, but more often than not you might want to ask them for some pretty custom work to make the EHR work the way you want it to work for your clinic. So, you want to make sure that you have a good relationship with your EHR vendor.

However, that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with verifying what the EHR vendor and their salespeople are telling you. In fact, it would be a huge mistake not to verify. There are lots of open forums like this website where you can ask and verify a lot of what the EHR representatives are telling you. Also, visit other hospitals, healthcare centers, doctors etc. who have implemented an EHR from the same vendor.

100. Ask about the learning curve
Great suggestion! Although, I don’t think there’s much value asking the EHR vendor about the learning curve. Ok, maybe you can find a little value if you ask them on average how much training their users require to implement their EHR. However, the learning curve of an EHR goes far beyond the initial training. So, you should ask your EHR vendors existing users about the learning curve. Also, try to ask those doctors who have implemented in the last 3-6 months. It’s easy to forget how hard (or easy) it was to learn something when you did it a few years ago.

99. Ask what platforms are supported
Yes, most EMR software is very specific. You can actually find much of the breakout of which platforms various EHR companies support on this EHR and EMR Operating System Compatibility wiki page. Obviously, if you love your Apple products, then you’re going to need to be sure that your EHR platform supports it. Not to mention, the platforms an EHR vendor supports (or more likely doesn’t support) might be a sign of how well the EHR is at keeping up with the latest technological trends.

98. Look for long life and long term support
Switching EMRs is worse than implementing one in the first place. Sure, they usually go better than the initial implementation, but there’s nothing fun about switching EMR software. So, do what you can to ensure that the EHR that you choose is going to be around into the future. Otherwise, even if you don’t want to switch EHR software, you may be forced to do so. It’s not fun redesigning clinical processes for a new EHR.

97. How will your teams be educated on the EMR / EHR?
Yes, your whole team will need to be educated. Even if you have one person that’s educated on all the components and then trains the rest of your staff, each staff member is going to need training. There are even many EHR companies that offer unlimited training. It’s part of their sales pitch. Basically, they offer unlimited training as a way to show that they have to make the EHR really easy to use so that they don’t spend all their time training you.

Personally, I also like to do some up front training for the EHR implementation and then budget for some training a few weeks or a month down the road. You’ll be amazed how much more you learn and how much better questions you ask after having used the EHR for a few weeks or month.

96. Ensure audit logs are easy to get to and are comprehensive
I like to do this best by imagining 5 legal scenarios that you might need the EMR audit logs. Then, ask the EHR vendor to provide you the audit logs for those 5 scenarios so that you can see how it would look if you happen to need that information. This is even better if you can test drive the EHR software and try running the logs yourself.

There you have it. My commentary on the first 5 of 101 EMR and EHR tips. 10 more posts to go. If you want to see my analysis of the other 101 EMR and EHR tips, I’ll be updating this page with my 101 EMR and EHR tips analysis. So, click on that link to see the other 95.

Defense Department’s EHR Effort Falters

Posted on October 7, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

From reader DKBerry:

You’d think that buying a common EHR platform and deploying it across all of Defense Department’s medical centers (Army, Navy, Air Force) … that they would have done better.  How did VA succeed where DoD is failing?

Unless the Defense Department addresses weaknesses in project planning and management that have hampered its current electronic health-record system’s capabilities, it risks undermining its new EHR initiatives, according to a Government Accountability Office report (PDF) requested by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), the ranking minority member of the Senate Budget Committee.

The report notes how the Defense Department has obligated some $2 billion since 1988 to an EHR system for the 9.6 million active-duty service members, their families and other beneficiaries but has come up short and has scaled back its original expectations for AHLTA. (AHLTA was originally an acronym for “Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application,” but the department later declared it was no longer an acronym, but a brand.)

After finding AHLTA’s early performance “problematic” in terms of speed, usability and availability, the Department of Defense has sought to acquire a new system known as EHR Way Ahead, according to the report.

The new system, according to the GAO report, “is expected to address performance problems; provide unaddressed capabilities such as comprehensive medical documentation; capture and share medical data electronically within DOD; and improve existing information sharing with the Department of Veterans Affairs,” and has initiated efforts to “stabilize” AHLTA so it can act as a bridge until the system is ready.

The Defense Department has allocated $302 million in its 2011 budget request, according to the report, but has not changed its EHR acquisition process to avoid the same shortcomings it experienced with AHLTA.

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