OccupyYourEMR! – An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Posted on November 22, 2011 I Written By

Katherine Rourke 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.

Note:  The following is not to be taken at face value, exactly — I’m not literally convinced that it’s time for a revolution — but you might see a point or two here that are worth considering further.

Doctors, are you sick of having an EMR pushed down your throat by administrators and IT leaders that don’t care how disruptive or painful the change may be?  Do you feel like your complaints and concerns aren’t being heard?  Are you actually afraid a patient will be hurt someday because of the EMR’s limitations?

Well, I say it’s high time you get radical and OccupyYourEMR!  Get in there and resist until your (absolutely critical) voice is being heard.

If you don’t, you know you’re going to be steamrolled into using a platform that’s awkward, ugly, inflexible and slow — in short, a system only the IT admin and hospital board who funded it could love.   Maybe you’re not ready to stop working, but what if you refused to log in?

As things stand, you have little to gain and a lot to lose by blindly kowtowing to EMR adoption demands.

Hey, if Hospital X installs an EHR and it seems to work, the CIO and the CEO and the board of directors look like geniuses. Some of them will probably get big bonuses if everything falls into place just right.

You, on the other hand, will be lucky if the new system doesn’t cut your work pace in half, confuse you and make charting a painful chore. Oh, and if things really go badly, you’ll harm or kill a patient because you didn’t read the EMR right.  Of course, the hospital will be right there beside you offering the best legal defense money can buy, right? (Uh, not really…)

Yes, there are some stories out there about EMRs that actually improve patient care and make doctors’ lives easier, but let’s face it, there’s a reason we don’t publish a ton of those here (or on sister blog Hospital EMR and EHR).  I’m not suggesting that all EMR rollouts are a mess, but few are a walk in the garden either. And it’s more common than you might think for a provider organization to go through a second or even a third installation before everything works.

Hey, don’t misunderstand me, I still believe EMRs are going to be a positive force over the long term.  In the mean time, though, some clinicians will be casualties — either becoming burned out by new work expectations, hating the new process or even making dangerous mistakes. Don’t be one of them.

Demand an EHR that helps your workflow, helps you provide better patient care, makes your life better, and lives up to the expectations the EMR salesperson made. An EHR that does those things will be welcomed by almost all doctors and other staff.