Lessons of Mercy
Process can be as important as technology in order to successfully deploy and gain physician adoption of a hospital EHR. That was the message conveyed by Rahul Agarwal, vice president of business development at CHI Mercy Health’s Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg, Oregon at a webinar last week.
Three years ago, Mercy had a completely paper-based physician workflow and was just starting to explore electronic solutions. Today, having implemented PatientKeeper on top of its tried and true MEDITECH infrastructure, the hospital is approaching HIMSS Stage 7 sophistication. A rapid and dramatic change like that owes its success to many factors and people. Agarwal specifically pointed to the long-standing collaboration between his hospital’s IT group and medical staff. Mercy established an IT steering committee with physicians from many specialties, including doctors who were not inherently comfortable with technology. The group fostered open and ongoing communication within the wider medical staff, and with the hospital’s technology vendors, so user requirements were clearly understood by all involved parties and informed decisions could be made expeditiously.
Another operational key to Mercy’s successful PatientKeeper implementation, said Agarwal, was that nurses were fully engaged in using the hospital’s existing MEDITECH system prior to bringing PatientKeeper live for physicians. With relevant patient information populated in MEDITECH, PatientKeeper was instantly useful for doctors, who could easily call up whatever they wanted to see in their portal. From there, it was an easier lift to engage physicians with CPOE, medication reconciliation and documentation applications.
None of this is to say that the technology itself doesn’t matter; indeed, it matters quite a lot. Usability factors weigh especially heavily. But for a hospital deploying an EHR to its physicians, a thoughtful and collaborative process can be the key to getting the technology optimized and used to maximum benefit.