Buying EHR Programs: Just Ask!

Do you member that intense, iconic Jerry Maguire plea?

Jerry, the entrepreneurial PR expert, implored his flashy athlete friend about how to fix and reshape his image.  

Some nerve? If you’re the expert figure it out, right? Isn’t that your job!

This is true … to an extent.

Experts, consultants, and professionals are paid well enough to justify an expectation of solid performance and delivery. This also applies to healthcare administrators. In this case, I’m specifically talking about staff that make health IT software purchasing decisions.

But before continuing on that note, let me briefly share what a nurse practitioner friend told me last night about her fast-paced job.

She sees 13 to 18 patients a day. You get the picture – exhausting work.

So, when it’s time for her to do charting, ease and clarity are at the top of her must-have list for an EHR/billing system. But, sadly she’s stuck with a damnable tool that’s anything but simple.  

Who told them this would work?

My pal says that if she weren’t so tired at the end of the day, she’d cry. Just knowing how many additional hours she’ll have to work in the evening – thanks to a cumbersome software program – makes her crazy.

As her friend, I feel for her. All this extra work is cutting into her sleep and leisure time.

As a healthcare consumer— I mean, when I really think about it — I’m annoyed and terribly concerned.

I want the person in charge of my medical care to spend most of her energy and focus on me – not some software program.

Clinicians shouldn’t experience hair-pulling frustration because of a program. They should be maximizing their efforts by directly serving patients and brainstorming better interventions, treatment plans, and integrative care methods.

Sure, technology holds tremendous promise for predictive analytics, enhanced outreach, and patient outcomes.  But the road to such progress looks rocky without increased clinician adoption of health IT. And, if healthcare providers are cursing the tech gods now while dealing with basic systems, deeper IT involvement seems questionable.

So where does this leave healthcare administrators?

Part of healthcare administrators’ expertise involves understanding technical components of software solutions, organizational billing cycles, medical management processes and the like. And, I don’t doubt they possess those essential qualifications.

But a critical step to buying the right software that will ideally leverage disease management programs, facilitate accurate billing, and perform other functions that render value-based care, is getting feedback AND approval from clinicians.

Ask … ask … and listen

Nurses, doctors and others with a hands-on role in patient care need to hear, feel, see, taste, and touch potentially new electronic information systems. But seriously, they’re participation in the procurement process must be expanded.

It’s not enough to email care givers PowerPoint presentations and briefs about new software. Physicians must actually try them out – possibly pilot test them, to know for certain if they will meet their work demands and documentation requirements.

For sure, this is a time-consuming extra step, which carries added fees. But I believe a sincere “Whadya think?” combined with well-structured end-user testing are well worth the rewards – to clinicians … and ultimately, patients.