There is a popular quote usually heard in marketing circles from former American economist and Harvard Business School professor Theodore Levitt:
“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.”
The only thing an electronic drill and something like an electronic health records system have in common is that they both run on electricity, but there is a valuable lesson here for healthcare IT implementations.
A poorly built drill may give you a quarter-inch hole, but the battery will likely need constant charging, the design may not be ergonomic, and chances are that it doesn’t have the torque required to penetrate all materials. You have been sold a quarter-inch hole, but at what cost?
The tuning of tools to your specified needs matters just as much as the tools themselves. Therefore, a professional carpenter will pay for a drill modified to their job requirements. Conversely, hospitals should not skimp on a customized implementation of their healthcare IT system.
Now that close to 99 percent of the nation’s hospitals have made some movement from paper to digital systems—electronic health records, computerized prescriber-order-entry, or otherwise—returns on those investments are becoming clearer.
If optimization to a hospital’s workflow was not a key element of the implementation process, that ROI may not be looking so good.
A recent article from Healthcare IT News discussed the importance of EHR optimization during implementations. It claims that hospitals need to start looking beyond a purely Meaningful Use focus when considering an implementation investment, and towards improved interoperability. While this is a good place to start, let’s take optimization a step further.
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 value in ROI is worthwhile based on a few key factors:
Time – Things happen fast in an emergency room and time is always of the essence. A speedily implemented EDIS system that lacks end-user customization will save a hospital on the front-end and minimize interruptions. Once that system goes live, how much time will nurses and physicians waste sorting through screens and required fields they don’t need? The difference is between controlling time lost and being at its mercy.
Money – The motor on that poorly designed drill died just after a year of hard use. Now it needs to be replaced. Likewise, a new EHR system coupled with a rushed training approach that focuses on “how to do a task” versus “why we are doing things this way” often requires vendors to either come back and fix things or drives caregivers and employees towards inaction and wanting to return to the process they knew before the install began. Both these instances lead to added costs that could have been avoided with more of a strategic approach up front.
Staff – A people-first approach 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.
Implementation of healthcare IT technologies requires a long-term vision. Optimizing healthcare technology implemented to meet bare minimum standards after the fact can end up costing more than what hospitals would have spent ensuring optimization upfront.
Do hospitals want digital healthcare information technologies, or do they want improved workflows, reduced downtime, less-stressed hospital employees, and healthier communities?
A properly implemented system is one that works for executives, staff, and patients and represents more than just value at the bottom line, but value in care delivery.
See how MEDHOST experts are helping hospitals today!