The effort to implement electronic medical records (EMR) has challenged even the most experienced IT professionals. Large hospital groups, medium-sized clinics, and small doctor’s offices are all grappling with the best way to approach the issue.
As the Purchasing and Facilities Maintenance Manager of Austin Regional Clinics, Perry Mouser had a crucial role in the implementation of EMR: he was responsible for ordering, setting up and maintaining hardware. We recently talked with Mouser about what he thinks are the best ways to implement EMR. Here’s what he said.
1. Establish and Maintain Expectations
One of the primary challenges for Mouser stemmed from Austin Regional Clinics being doctor-owned. The 19 clinics have 350 doctors among them, and each of those doctors received a set-up for their EMR system specifically based on what they wanted. That’s a lot of doctors to please and make happy. Because everyone had a say in their particular set-up, Mouser says, it was much more difficult to implement EMR there than at a county-owned hospital, for example, where every exam room’s configuration would be identical.
Thus, in Mouser’s particular situation, a key component of success was to establish expectations– this is what we have to offer, this is our budget, these are the choices you can choose from– and maintain those expectations in the face of power plays and pushback.
2. Be Flexible
Perhaps the most crucial way to be successful when implementing EMR in a doctor-owned clinic is to be flexible. Mouser offered the doctors five different configurations (a monitor and CPU mounted on the wall with a wireless mouse and keyboard on a Zido cart
, for example) to choose from. Not one or two, but five unique solutions. It was chosen based on the exam room’s layout, the workflow and the doctor’s personal preference.
Mouser had to maintain a high level of flexibility when assembling these configurations in the exam rooms because it was up to the doctors to choose exactly where they wanted it to be. Some listened to Mouser’s suggestions on ideal placement; others put it exactly where they wanted, despite advice to the contrary. Some even decided they wanted it somewhere else after Mouser had installed it. Regardless, maintaining a high level of flexibility, and expecting hiccups and hurdles along the way will help ease the pain of EMR implementation.
3. Choose Hardware that Will Last
Once EMR implementation is complete, Mouser says the big challenge on his side is maintaining the hardware. While the monitors and CPU equipment may change as technology advances, he “imagines [they’ll] keep the hardware for quite a while.” So it makes sense, and will end up making everyone’s life a lot easier, if the chosen hardware (i.e. monitor arms, carts, etc.) is built to last and comes with a lifetime warranty
. Save yourself time and pain in the future by making a smart investment in the hardware that’s housing your EMR system now.
Have you been involved in implementing EMR? What tips and tricks would you recommend?