Today, around 72% of all office-based physicians and 96% of all non-federal acute care hospitals have adopted a certified electronic health record (EHR) system. 

An EHR implementation can transform a healthcare facility, making the task of patient record management easier and more effective. Yet, not all projects go according to plan. 

Today, we’re sharing why EHR implementations fail and what you can do to safeguard yours against the same mistakes. 

Why EHR Implementations Fail

1. Technical Failures

Many EHR implementations fail because the system that was installed simply wasn’t the right one. Usually, this happens when the new platform isn’t compatible with existing practice management systems employed at the facility. 

During the initial vendor selection phase, it’s important to be as critical as possible. Vendors will naturally try to sell you on the various features of their products, but unless you need those features, they could be an expensive mistake.

Instead of getting wrapped up in the bells and whistles, make sure the EHR system you select has the features and functionality you need. This might include:

  • Reliable wireless coverage
  • Strong bandwidth
  • Patient data security
  • Regular data backups
  • Scalable data centers

Without these features, your EHR system can’t do much to support your physicians or clinicians. Pressing ahead without verifying technical features and compatibility could eventually affect patient care.

We recommend establishing a project team at the beginning to verify requirements and lead the vendor review phase.

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2. Lack of Stakeholder Buy-In

Stakeholder buy-in is critical for any enterprise-wide project, whether it’s an ERP implementation, SCM implementation, or EHR implementation.

For example, without support from your C-suite, it can be difficult to obtain the funding and resources your project needs. 

You also need support from other types of stakeholders, including a designated physician who can champion the effort and encourage other team members to support it. 

Achieving organizational alignment and buy-in is key to helping the implementation progress smoothly from the beginning. 

3. Lack of Functional Fit

A well-defined ERP implementation methodology gives a sense of order to your project. This is a proven set of steps that you can perform to make sure your project meets performance standards and goes live on time and within budget.

As you review available methodologies, ask these questions:

  • Is this a sound, reviewed, and published methodology?
  • How has this methodology performed in the past?
  • How many ERP projects has this methodology been successful on?
  • Have any companies used this methodology and failed?
  • How will we measure incremental success with this methodology?
  • How will we measure project success with this methodology?

Once you have chosen the right methodology for your project, make sure everyone on your team understands the steps and milestones. This includes any third-party partners, consultants, or systems integrators.

4. Lack of Patient Data Reliability

For an EHR system to be useful, it must provide accurate and up-to-date patient information. Migrating incorrect, outdated, or unusable data can lead to poorly-informed decision-making. 

In a high-risk field like healthcare, this isn’t a liability you want to shoulder. Physicians, clinicians, and staff members who use the EHR system should be confident that they’re working with the most recent, correct data. 

Before the data migration phase, take the time to review your patient records and cleanse the data as necessary. Remove duplicate files, correct any errors, and fill in empty fields. This improves system usability and makes it easier for employees to find the information they need. 

5. Financial Failures

Sometimes, EHR projects go off-course because of financial problems.

For instance, the project team might have oversold the ROI at the beginning, and the actual return wasn’t significant enough to offset project costs. Or the project budget might have started low and gradually increased to the point of being unaffordable. 

This is why it’s so important to set a realistic budget from the start. Don’t try to cut corners to gain stakeholder approval. Consider all the work required to implement the system, in addition to the cost of the EHR software. This includes organizational change management, end-user training, business process reengineering, and more. 

6. Lack of Organizational Change Management (OCM)

While modernizing your healthcare office, don’t forget about the employees who will be using the new technology. 

Enterprise-wide implementations can be intimidating, especially if you are making sweeping changes to your existing infrastructure. This is why a robust OCM plan is key. This plan should detail your approach to employee communication, training, resistance management, and more. Ultimately, it should help you prepare your workforce for what’s on the horizon so you can maximize EHR adoption. 

Once your system is live, maintain your commitment to OCM by providing comprehensive post-implementation support to end-users and stakeholders. Resolve issues quickly, provide ongoing training, and monitor system use against anticipated outcomes. 

An EHR Implementation can be a Critical Turning Point for Your Practice

As physicians continue to modernize, they’re realizing how beneficial it can be to have patient records accessible with a click. 

However, to succeed in this realm, it’s important to plan ahead. Now that you know why EHR implementations fail, you can put steps in place to avoid these pitfalls in your own project. 

Our enterprise software consultants can help you navigate this implementation. Contact us below for a free consultation.

About the author

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As Director of Panorama’s Expert Witness Practice, Bill oversees all expert witness engagements. In addition, he concurrently provides oversight on a number of ERP selection and implementation projects for manufacturing, distribution, healthcare, and public sector clients.

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