With new EHR/EMR implementations rolling out, I recently found myself trying to explain the significance of change management to a group of nurses from a small health system. I explained that it refers to the process of managing the significant changes occurring in the workflows, procedures and business operations due to healthcare reform.
In a widely read Linked In discussion, ‘The Top 10 Reasons Why EHR/EMR Implementations Fail,’ a majority of the reasons listed related directly to change management. Change management includes more than just procedures and integrating systems. It involves changes in culture and philosophies coupled with a strong business model.
These mindset changes are integrated with new system functionality and workflows to identify weaknesses within the entire business process. It takes a unique ability and experience to identify these weaknesses and it starts with the organization’s top-level strategy. Provider organizations need a Project Management Office (PMO) or internal team to plan for how implementations impact other systems and business procedures, to ensure quality and security. PMO’s, through change management, make a new system a true business solution.
Working with clients over the past years, we’ve noticed a troubling trend among providers working feverishly to achieve meaningful use. With so many new requirements introduced in a short period of time, providers are inundated with initiatives. Meaningful use is great for delivering qualified outcomes but does very little to address improving healthcare providers’ business operations.
As a result, too often organizations don’t take an in-depth look at the indirect integration critical to maintaining a good business model. Too many are waiting to complete implementations before addressing meaningful use requirements. Waiting for systems to be implemented before addressing meaningful use usually means the appropriate change management is neglected. Without proper change management, new systems, workflows and operations won’t function as effectively and efficiently as they could.
During a session at the recent HIMSS Conference, representatives from UHHS of Cleveland dove into the dangers of ineffective change management. An enlightening side by side comparison of organizations conducting implementations while working towards meaningful use illustrated the importance of the process. One organization involved change management during their implementations, while the second made no efforts to include it. The results were markedly different.. Not only was the first organization much improved, it demonstrated great success. The other scenario did not meet the success criteria expected. It was implemented, but riddled with problems and never delivered as expected creating more problems than ever realized.