24 May 2013

EHR Dissatisfaction - A Tech or People Problem?

We have been hearing from doctors and others about how much problem they are having with the electronic health record (EHR) systems they are being required by law to use. Having watched some of my doctors use one system, as a patient I can sympathize. If they don't want to come back later and try to remember information, they need to sit and click, and click, ad infinitum. In many ways, I do not understand as I have operated computers and programs. Some are labor intensive, and some are almost interactive, but unless I was working on a special project, I had time to keep up with other activities. Then to have medical programs that are so proprietary and the information so accessible to electronic thieves, makes me wonder if this technology is worth the expense.

Now, we have a blog by a person working on the other side of the problem and making a statement questioning whether it is a tech or people problem. According to this blogger, it is a people problem because the organizations are treating implementation as a purely technological issue when in reality it is a workforce issue. She is saying that organizations did not do their homework and have workforce training and readiness for the installation and implementation.

According to this blogger, most organizations do not have the workforce necessary with the training to make proper use of the programs. If only it was that easy! Most practices are being pushed to their financial brink and some hospitals are actually over the brink. To hire and have the workforce available is not economically sound and would bankrupt many organizations. Yet these programs are mandated and to receive monies organizations need to have them installed. And the tech organizations selling these systems could care less that their programs may not be as efficient and safe as the buyers need.

The 2006 publication “Building the Workforce for Health Information Transformation” by the American Health Information Management Association and American Medical Informatics Association stated: “A workforce capable of innovating, implementing, and using health communications and information technology (IT) will be critical to healthcare’s success. Conversely, without such a workforce, implementations will fail or could even cause harm.” What these associations don't understand is how close to the edge many medical practices and hospitals have been operating.

And then to blame them for not having the trained workforce is the height of ignorance and lack of caring on their part. This is evolving into a blame game and patients will be the losers. I feel the tech people did not do a proper assessment before completing their work.


  1. Interesting problem and no easy answers. We, as patients, get the short end of the stick for sure.

  2. Yes, Scott, and we can't find a way to avoid this - yet.