A recent post in the FierceHealthCare newsletter decried the doubling of emergency patient wait and treatment times in an unnamed Indiana hospital brought on by the hospital’s “recent transition to electronic health records.” The post writer opined that the increased time to treatment highlighted “the challenges of training medical staff on new health IT systems.” Before we blame this on the training program, or allude that it may have something to do with the capacities of the trainees, could there possibly be another consideration?
I have heard stories and also seen firsthand the impact wholesale EHR implementation can have when due diligence has not been given to matching demonstrated system functionality with various clinical workflows. What works extremely well in a med-surge nursing workflow does not necessarily comport with the demand and nuances of emergency nursing workflow. It’s like pounding a square peg into a round hole. Very frustrating! These decisions can also be costly. The nursing director of the Indiana hospital emergency department reports “adding staff to try to return to pre-EHR times.”
I’m sure this is not the efficiency the hospital had hoped to realize. The FierceHealthCare post does note that the “medical staff is examining the EHR and its work processes to see whether the problems run deeper than lack of familiarity with the new electronic records system.” This is to their credit but may be a day late and a dollar short. Greater benefit would be realized if all systems were vetted up front for their demonstrated benefit to specific clinical disciplines and functionality matched to clinical workflow instead of trying to cram the diverse workflows into a single functionality schema.