As previously reported in this blog, many experts in the healthcare field believe that the implementation of EHRs will increase efficiency and cut the nation's healthcare costs. However, it is also critical for medical facilities to properly prepare these new systems to utilize the technologies and ensure a smooth transition.
A recent report released by the VA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that The Memphis VA Medical Center's emergency department (ED) is far below the VHA standard and suffers from chronic overcrowding. This may partially be due to a recent installation of an EHR system.
The most significant factor in this was a lack of medical and surgical beds. However, other factors included inappropriate ED visits by patients, unreliable ED data and inadequate reaction from management to resolve the issues.
The Republic newspaper reported that the Columbus (Ind.) Regional Hospital saw its patient wait and treatment times double after instituting a new EHR system. According to the hospital's nursing director, the time that acute-care patients spent in the emergency department jumped from 2 hours and 32 minutes to 4 hours and 13 minutes during the first week of implementation.
"When you are writing on a piece of paper that you've used for as long as you have been here, you can do it quickly," nursing director Carolyn O'Neal told the news source. "When you move to electronic, the staff had to be very careful to make sure they did things accurately."
To ensure that the integration process runs as smoothly as possible, medical facilities should use healthcare strategic planning services. That way, employees at all levels can be properly trained in EHRs and e-prescriptions. In addition, a hospital consultant can work with staff members to properly make the transition from one system to another, keeping productivity flowing and patient safety a top priority.