A common EHR implementation mantra today is “this is not an IT project.” By this axiom, most people mean that the applications and infrastructure are tools and are largely predictable and mature at this point – the real challenge is engaging clinicians and operational leaders to drive clinical transformation, achieving as much benefit as possible, and driving adoption. And yes, EHR implementations should be led by an operational leader – no argument there.
Although, as I sometimes mention to people using the mantra: you are definitely right in positioning the EHR as a non-IT project, but know also that the basic elements are that of an IT project. The investment, costing between $10m and $100m’s, is made up of millions of lines of code, and you’re putting bets on your own people, and the vendor, to continue writing great code forever –that’s all IT (granted, based on intimate knowledge of process and workflow). The point being, be careful about sidelining the CIO, CMIO, IT PM’s, and others in the IT organization that have years of vendor and software implementation experience.
I sometimes use this, or a similar analogy, (which my client in Indianapolis readily gets, of course): who won the last Indianapolis 500? The driver? The car? The pit crew? Kind of a strange question, with a provoking reply, it is a team-technology mix so tightly wound together that trying to separate them really doesn’t make sense. Indeed.
I think the vision for our industry should be that in 3-5 years (certainly within 10 years) the distinction will have blurred between technology and practitioners to the point where there are no longer separate camps. Technologists will spend the majority of their time understanding clinicians and how to make them the best they can be with the aid of technology. To counter, clinicians will join user groups, network with their peers, and spend some of time thinking about what changing technology can do to make maximum use of the health system’s expensive, very expandable IT platform. Both have to push the envelope on culture, process, and IT (all inextricably linked). One team, aiming for one outcome: to create the best evidenced-based, state-of-the-art healthcare delivery system possible.
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