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E-Patient Update:  Patients And Families Need Reassurance During EMR Rollouts

Posted on March 5, 2018 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or

Sure, EMR rollouts are stressful for hospital staffers and clinicians. No matter how well you plan, there will still be some gritted teeth and slammed keyboards as they get used to the new system. Some will afraid that they can’t get their job done right and live in fear of making a clinical mistake. All that said, if your rollout is gradual and careful, and your training process is thorough, it’s likely everyone will adjust to the new platform quickly.

The thing is, these preparations leave out two very important groups: patients and their families. What’s more, the problem is widespread. As a chronically ill patient, I visit more hospitals than most people, and I’ve never seen any effective communication that educates patients about the role of the EMR in their care. I particularly remember one otherwise excellent hospital that decorated its walls with asinine posters reading “Epic is here!” I can’t see how that could possibly help staff members make the transition, much less patients and family members.

This has got to change. Hospital IT will always be evolving, but when patients are swept up in and confused by these changes, it distorts everything that’s important in healthcare.

Needless fear

A recent experience my mother had exemplifies this problem. She has been keeping watch over my brother Joseph, who is critically ill with the flu and in an induced coma. For the first few days, as my brother gradually improved, my mother felt very satisfied with the way the clinical staff was handling his case.

Not long after, however, someone informed her that the hospital’s new Epic system was being deployed that day. Apparently, nobody explained what that really meant for her or my brother, and she felt that the ICU nurses and doctors were moving a bit more slowly during the first day or two of the launch. I wasn’t there, but I suspect that she was right.

Of course, if things go well, over the long run the Epic system will fade into the background and have no importance to patients and their families. But that day or two when the rollout came and staff seemed a bit preoccupied, it scared the heck out of her.

Keeping patients in the loop

Don’t get me wrong: I understand why this hospital didn’t do more to educate and reassure my mother. I suspect administrators wouldn’t know how to go about it, and probably feel they don’t they have time to do it. The idea is foreign. After all, communicating with patients about enterprise health IT certainly isn’t standard operating procedure.

But isn’t it time to involve patients in the game? I’m not just talking about consumer-facing technology, but any technology that could reasonably affect their experience and sense of comfort with the care they’re receiving.

Yes, educating patients and families about enterprise IT changes that affect them is probably out of most health IT leaders’ comfort zones. But truthfully, that’s no excuse for inaction. Launching an Epic system isn’t inside-baseball process — it affects everyone who visits the hospital. Come on, folks, let’s get this right.

Are You Desensitized to What’s Happening In Your Organization?

Posted on June 26, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

What a great Monday Motivation fron Jake Poore. We’ve all seen what Jake is talking about. Once we get into our daily habits we stop noticing the details of the things around us.

Jake also mentioned Patient Experience in his tweet and becoming desensitized to the patient experience is a great example of what he’s talking about. I remember one CIO telling me that his enemy is the “we’ve always done it this way” culture at his hospital. Someone responding that way is the epitome of someone who has become desensitized to the world around them. Patients suffer when this becomes the modes operandi.

However, this principle goes well beyond just the way we see and interact with patients. It also happens in the way we interact with each other. An organization’s workflows and processes become such a part of their culture that it’s hard to disrupt them. We become desensitized to their weaknesses because they’re the devil we know. Adopting a new technology or a new process that will disrupt our normal processes causes us to wonder what new devils will we discover and do we want to deal with those? The fear of those unknown are often much stronger than the benefits new opportunities can offer us.

I’ve seen many organizations that have become desensitized to the follies of their EHR. Some are dealing with awful workflows and awful setups, but most have given up trying to change it. They no longer feel how awful they are in their lives. They’ve become desensitized to these pains and just consider them part of doing business. How awful is that to consider?

What can we do to overcome these challenges?

The best thing you can do is to get outside of your box and talk to other people. Meeting other people who have different experiences and perspective can reopen your eyes to the things you no longer see. This is why I think EHR user groups are so valuable. You can hear from other people who suffered through the challenges you’re facing and often even find a solution.

With that said, user groups can often be about commiseration as opposed to rectification and solutions. That’s why I think we need a place for true peer connection across EHR vendors. You’d think this would happen at a place like HIMSS, but it usually doesn’t. It’s so large that people flock together in their usual groups.

What do you do to make sure you don’t become desensitized?

Are We Patients or Healthcare Consumers?

Posted on September 15, 2015 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

Hello My Name is 221-365 - Robert Occhialini

On the weekly #hcldr tweetchat last Tuesday, I posed the question “Are we patients or healthcare consumers?” What resulted was a flurry of comments that made it clear that people are very divided on the issue.

Some like Laurel Ann Whitlock (@twirlandswirl) felt that the consumer moniker is appropriate:

Others like Sarah Greene (@researchmatters) and @EyeSteve felt the opposite:

This line of thought is interesting. There is an underlying assumption that “consumer” implies a commoditized and transparent market – one where the service, outcomes and pricing are all well known to the individual making the purchasing decision. Most of healthcare doesn’t fit into this nice little box – except with routine health/wellness visits. For many this is where the consumer analogy breaks down. People do not feel like consumers not because they don’t want to be, but because healthcare is so confusing and opaque that normal consumer behavior is the exception rather than the rule. There was a little bit of negativity directed at calling patients consumers, a sentiment that was called into question by none other than Dr. Nick van Terheyden (@drnic1):

Steve Sisko (@ShimCode) put forth the notion that this shouldn’t be an either/or discussion:

I agree with both gentlemen. I don’t think there is anything inherently bad about being a healthcare consumer. It would be wonderful to have a system where we were all so healthy that our interaction with healthcare providers was a simple transaction. I believe that for the most part, “patient” is the appropriate name because it speaks to the deeper relationship with healthcare providers. This is especially true for those with chronic conditions and rare diseases.

D’Anna Holmes (@PoPculture_px) summed up the discussion nicely: