IT Executives Offer Advice for Adopting Electronic Records

May 21, 2007

Health IT executives at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s Virtual Conference and Expo last week gave recommendations on how to institute electronic health record systems most effectively, Computerworld reports.

Detley Smaltz, CIO at the Ohio State University Medical Center, said support teams and user response in the first three months after an EHR system is adopted can “make or break” a project. Project-level steering teams also can help quickly address questions about required changes to business processes, Smaltz said.

Salvatore Volpe, a physician and longtime user of EHRs in Staten Island, N.Y., recommended extensive upfront planning to avoid the “headaches and heartaches” that the projects can cause. Without early planning, physician practices have to pay for EHR software and services before they are ready to use them, Volpe said. He added that vendors typically begin charging users for software and services when a contract is signed, regardless of whether the physicians know how to use the product.

Denni McColm, CIO of Citizens Memorial Health Care Foundation in Bolivar, Mo., advised new adopters of EHR systems to completely eliminate all paper charts once the system has been instituted. “If you don’t, you can never achieve the financial benefits of implementing an EHR,” she said, adding, “Anything that is on paper won’t be available when physicians really need it to make critical decisions.”

Laura Jantos, principal with ECG Management Consultants, urged faster implementation. She said that organizations who quickly adopt EHR systems with extensive functionality will recover from startup financial and productivity losses faster than those moving slowly and trying to lessen the impact of the change (Havenstein, Computerworld, 5/18).



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