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Kids, We're Getting a New EMR

August 17, 2008
by daphne
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You just put the last screw in your enterprise EMR. And the day you’re finally finished—after millions of dollars and years of 12-hour workdays – you start the process of throwing it out and getting a new one.

Wow. You must be crazy.

I thought that happened once in a blue moon--until I started writing a story about migrating a legacy EMR to a new one. Boy, was I was wrong: Once I started digging, I found more hospitals than I ever imagined springing for a new system after just getting up to speed on their old one.

And all I can think of is, how the heck do you tell hospital staff, nurses, docs and everyone else, “Kids, we’re getting a new EMR” without them turning around and shooting you?

In the process of researching the story (for October’s HCI) I talked to some CIOs who were switching out their legacy enterprise system—CIOs who’d already switched, were in the middle of switching, or just about to switch. And I talked to Jonathan Thompson of Healthia Consulting, who at least got me to understand WHY they did it (see One-on-One.) But I still can’t get stop thinking about the people who are going to actually have to use the new system. Because that’s who’s going to make or break you.

Look around your hospital and you’ll know what I mean. Here’s what you have: slim margins, overworked staff, regulatory changes, re-engineering, downsizing, all the STUFF they’ve already been asked to swallow. They went along with you once. They learned the new system, lived through the go-lives, implementation, change management, and meeting after meeting after meeting. And they all know the financial deal.

So now you’re telling them to do it AGAIN? And you’re about to spend HOW much? After everything they’ve been through, and all the industry changes they’re living with, you’re trying to get them to embrace a system that is going to cost millions of dollars and eat up huge chunks of their time?

Good luck.

Because I know, that no matter how good it looks on paper, if you’ve got a resentful nurse, flummoxed reg clerk or ED doc digging in his heels, you are in big trouble.

My old boss, Maricar Barrameda, is CIO at a hospital network in NYC’s public hospital system. She’s a great CIO, and is about to retire her legacy system and move on with a new one. And the more I learn about this process, the more I wish I was going to be there to help her get it right from the beginning. So maybe, just maybe, by writing this, and reaching out to all of you, I can.

Can we get a dialogue going? If you’re a CIO who has some ideas on this, add a comment.You’ll be helping one of your peers. Maricar, you know I’m always there for you.

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