“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.”
In the context of an electronic health record (EHR) system, former American economist and Harvard Business School professor, Theodore Levitt’s quote illustrates the importance of hospital leadership considering what a new EHR platform or tool will do, rather than what it is. New healthcare technology is all well and good, but how effective will it be in supporting your hospital’s long-term goals?
With so much at stake and the sheer magnitude of responsibility carried by an EHR, implementation of an EHR system should be a primary concern. EHR optimization and implementation is a good indicator of the return on investment that a healthcare solution will provide. The same can be said of a bargain plug-and-play EHR solution. Hospitals that want to make sure they are getting the most from the technology designed to support care should consider more closely the benefits of customized implementation for their healthcare IT (HIT) systems.
In the past decade, 99 percent of the nation’s hospitals have made some movement from paper to digital systems—electronic health records, electronic prescription for controlled substances (ePCS), or otherwise—returns on those investments are becoming more clear. If optimization to a hospital’s workflow is not a key element of the implementation process, ROI may not look so good.
A recent article from Healthcare IT News discussed the importance of EHR optimization during HIT implementations. It claims that hospitals need to start looking beyond purely Meaningful Use requirements when considering an implementation investment, and towards improved interoperability. Aspects like solving for interoperability that can help take excellent care delivery a step further can most likely be found in a custom HIT implementation.
MEDHOST believes that the implementation of any healthcare IT system should follow a similar path that goes beyond government incentives, beginning with a people-first focus and a constant eye towards sustainability.
While this comprehensive approach can require a greater financial commitment from the hospital side, the ROI of working with an HIT optimization and implementation specialist can be illustrated clearly by analyzing these three basic factors:
Cost – A one-size-fits-all implementation coupled with rushed training that focuses more on how to do things a certain way versus why we do things a certain way can result in down-the-road fixes and added costs. Custom HIT implementation and training helps sets caregivers and employees up for continued success that can reduce potential regressions and retraining. In this way, a more strategic approach to implementations up front can help avoid costs down the road.
Staff – A people-first philosophy guarantees hospital staff are part of the solution. In the end, time and money are both intrinsically tied to a hospital team’s ability to use the system. Knowing the minds of key stakeholders—executives to end-users—with an objective perspective is key for sustainability and long-term success.
Time – Things happen fast in an emergency room and time is a pricey commodity. A thoroughly implemented EDIS system that places a special focus on end-user customization may take more time to complete but is less likely to cause emergency care disruptions in the long-term. Consider how much time will nurses and physicians save because the EDIS is tailored to their workflows? The difference is between controlling time lost and being at its mercy.
In a changing consumer driven marketplace, implementing HIT technologies calls for insight and expertise useful in helping set hospitals up for continued success. Going back to optimize healthcare technology initially implemented to meet a minimum standard can end up costing hospitals more than what they would have spent ensuring optimization upfront.
A properly implemented system represents more than just value at the bottom line, it also represents the value in care delivery.