Doctor Describes 15+- Year EMR Integration Project

Posted on May 11, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

Wouldn’t it be great if you rolled your EMR and, bam, all of the problems you hoped to solve were solved, just like that?  Sure, but in most cases the technical rollout will do little to solve workflow problems unless you have them analyzed in advance, according to one doctor who’s taken part in a long, slow rollout. Here’s a quick overview of his organization’s progress: see what you think.

Going live is a far cry from having truly adopted an EMR,  and getting to adoption is a very long, drawn-out process, said Dr. Fred M. Kusumoto, who spoke at a recent meeting of the Heart Rhythm Society.

Dr. Kusumoto, who’s with the Mayo Clinic Jacksonville Electrophysiology and Pacing Services, conceded that EMRs can help smooth communication between systems. The thing is, he noted, integrating systems won’t happen over night. After all, the workflow of doing integration is very complex, so much so that years hardly suffice.  His organization began serving as “guinea pig” for its EMR vendor in 1996 and will as of 2013, will have one database using structured data, he said.

So, the million-dollar question is this: Has all of this effort been worthwhile?  Dr. Kusumoto actually didn’t say, if the CMIO article I reviewed is accurate.  Interesting. But he’s clearly learned a great deal, regardless of whether his rollout works out for Mayo. Here’s some of his suggestions on how to improve returns from your maturing EMR:

*  Make sure all stakeholders are involved as the EMR migration, including administrators and IT staffers.

* Bear in mind that EMR rollouts are at their most flexible in the first few years, so don’t miss your chance to get involved early.

* EMR implementations (typically) involve a scanning phase where the institution captures written records and plans for turning the records into structured data. Make sure you leave enough time to do this right.