Healthcare Leaders Remain Committed to Implementing EHRs
Healthcare leaders are implementing technology at a staggering pace. Between 2008 and 2015, we have experienced a nine-fold increase in the use of basic Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems. However, despite hard work and commitment, many organizations have not achieved the expected outcomes from their EHR implementations.
EHRs Can Help Us Achieve Better Outcomes
An EHR provides the opportunity to improve quality of care, achieve administrative efficiencies, and gain valuable insight into a rich set of data, but adoption of the technology requires significant changes in workflow, processes and human behaviors.
The 4 Drivers of EHR Adoption
We can learn about where to focus to achieve improved outcomes from organizations with the highest levels of EHR adoption. Our research in this area clearly demonstrates four main drivers for EHR adoption: engaged leadership, end-user proficiency, performance metrics, and the importance of long-term process sustainment.
Many organizations have implemented an EHR, but they still aren’t seeing improved clinical and financial outcomes because the level of system adoption remains low. When healthcare organizations achieve high adoption levels, they experience less clinician resistance, fewer errors, higher productivity, reduced costs, and less stress.
Engaged and Clinically Focused Leaders
Successful and sustainable adoption begins with leaders who effectively articulate how EHR adoption advances patient care and the organization’s mission, inspire end users to own the transition, govern participation in all adoption efforts, and drive clinical involvement in the design of the system to support best practice workflows. These leaders ensure processes are in place to help end users become proficient, track progress, and commit to a high level of EHR adoption for the long-term. While many organizations designate the chief information officer (CIO) or IT department to champion these efforts, research shows that we need all leaders, especially clinical leaders, to foster the highest level of end-user engagement and adoption.
Targeted Education for Proficient Users
EHR adoption is highly dependent on how end users are educated. Rather than relying on feature-function training, organizations achieve end-user proficiency in the application when education provides hands-on, scenario-based learning that is tailored to best practice workflows and individual roles. This education also assesses end users’ ability to perform tasks critical to their workflows, and is readily accessible, repeatable, and consistently deployed across the organization to support existing and new employees.
The success of engaged leadership and education depends on the ability to capture and improve key performance metrics. Organizations which successfully achieve and sustain adoption continually measure key indicators of engaged leadership and end-user proficiency to evaluate where they are in the adoption life cycle, and to reinforce or adapt their efforts to support long-term adoption. For instance, these organizations track the effectiveness of leadership governance and communication, as well as areas of greatest education need by individual, role, and department. Performance metrics drive process improvements and are critical to achieving desired clinical and financial outcomes.
Sustainment of Processes Long Term
EHR adoption is a fluid state, and the work to sustain it does not stop after go-live. Organizations that sustain adoption continue to support engaged leadership, education, and performance measurement to overcome key events that erode adoption, including application upgrades, workflow enhancements, leadership and staffing changes, and new government regulations. Organizations that achieve long-term adoption continue to modify and reinforce their adoption efforts to sustain optimal use of the EHR.