Health IT Can Learn From Past Screw-Ups

Paul Cerrato | InformationWeek | June 25, 2012

In healthcare today, we're seeing many clinicians give up paper recordkeeping systems by patching in EHRs. Then they're frustrated because they don't see the productivity spike they'd hoped for. What's really needed is process re-engineering by EHR vendors and clinicians alike. That means redesigning EHR tools so they're better suited for the clinical workflow process. It also means a willingness on the part of physicians to change the workflow process itself when EHR redesign and customization have reached their limits.

Jones and his colleagues make a similar point. Based on their analysis of IT systems in general, they say, "For every dollar invested in IT systems, firms typically had to invest several dollars for implementation, training, and process redesign to realize productivity gains." Equally important, the odds of seeing genuine productivity improvements required "incentive systems that reward team performance."

Frankly, you don't see a lot of team performance in healthcare. On the clinical side, there's a rigid physician-directed hierarchy, and that can hamper the process redesign process. Few healthcare stakeholders like to admit it, but all too often if the doctor who brings millions of dollars of business into the organization says, "No, I don't want to change," change rarely happens...