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4 tips for turning Luddites into champions for your new EPR

Change is hard. And for people who find it especially difficult to accept advancements in technology (Luddites), the transition to an electronic patient record (EPR)* can be a painful experience.

But solid clinical engagement strategies can turn the most vocal opponents into your organisation’s strongest advocates. These approaches will prove helpful from the earliest stages of EPR procurement through configuration, deployment and adoption.

1.      Manage expectations

Today people can book a flight, watch a video and attend a teleconference – all during their commute to work. Technology enables instant action in many different flavors, and it fosters high expectations amongst clinicians about what EPR solutions ought to be able to do.

Unfortunately, those expectations aren’t always a match with the solutions being procured. When selecting an EPR, healthcare organisations must consider a multitude of factors – including features, cost, usability, timeline – and sometimes make compromises to benefit the majority. For example, one group might be delighted with a standalone departmental system and disappointed in an enterprise solution that appears more complicated. But in reality, the latter choice may be the better solution for patients and the overall organisation.

Involving end users from the earliest stages of procurement can help set realistic expectations and the foundation for compromises that may follow.

2.      Listen carefully to the Luddites

In every EPR transition, the Luddites are easy to spot. They are least likely to volunteer for early, optional stages for feedback. But at the heart of the most stubborn opposition, you’ll often find a deep dedication to do what’s best for patients.

Don’t wait until the adoption phase to hear their concerns. Seek them out and give them one-on-one attention. Listen to their insights, and share specific ways the system and optimised processes will benefit them downstream. It is a resource-intensive approach, but well worth the time to ensure greater support during the transition.

3.      Communicate (even if there’s a delay)

You can send emails, put up posters and host drop-in sessions. In a 24/7 diverse workforce, there are still people you’re going to miss. Think about every profession and make the effort to reach them in multiple ways. Remember, for example, to find ways to include the team in the outreach clinic that doesn’t always come into the office, or the nurses on the night shift.

A common mistake? When projects are delayed, communication channels stop sending information to the end user community. When that happens, the whole momentum is lost. Even if there is a delay, keep explaining why and prepare end users for what’s coming.

4.      Go beyond the Chief Clinical Information Officer (CCIO) for input

In the UK, there has been a very positive trend over the last few years to appoint a CCIO. These executives are extremely valuable members of teams that steer EPR procurement, deployment and adoption decisions whilst also facilitating clinical engagement.

However, a CCIO with the best intentions can never speak for the entire organisation. For true engagement to happen, involvement from all stakeholders groups is crucial. End users are not just doctors and nurses – they are physiotherapists, pharmacists, social workers and more. Clinical engagement activities should involve a variety of professions, grades, locations and specialties.

Engage clinicians early and often

We all like to have input into major transitions that affect us, don’t we? We start the process with high hopes and dreams, and adjust our expectations as we learn there is no perfect option. But our priorities shape the compromises we make, and ultimately, we find the solution that works best for everyone involved.

The same principles apply in an EPR transition. Because clinicians are committed to doing what’s best for patients, it is imperative that they are part of that journey.

Editor’s Note: Electronic Patient Record (EPR) is another term for Electronic Medical Record (EMR) or Electronic Health Record (EHR).

Comments 2

  1. Dr Anna Bayes 04/10/2017

    Thank you for your comment. We certainly meant no offense in using the term Luddite. Our intention is only to point out that organisations should listen to clinicians who raise objections. We recognise that EMRs will only improve if we engage with those who challenge us. I’d be happy to speak with you directly to further discuss your views on how EMRs can improve.

  2. Tim Howland 04/07/2017

    Because I object to the many ways that electronic medical records are inadequate and force me to practice a lower quality medicine does not make me a Luddite. My objections, and the objections of a large majority of physicians forced to use this inadequate technology are based on the myriad ways in which this technology simply does not work. Childish name calling does not change this. Your ad is offensive and suggests a corporate mentality that is contrary to the priorities of principled clinicians trying to do a good job. As I sit on the committee in our institution charged with selecting our next EMR, I will bring the Allscripts mentality to the attention of my colleagues.

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