Electronic Health Records (EHR) solutions have been much maligned. They have been credited for everything that is right and blamed for everything that is wrong about healthcare. CEOs and CIOs have lost their jobs over failed implementations. Recently an EHR was partially blamed for allowing a patient to leave a Texas hospital with the Ebola virus. People would be better served looking at the total roadmap for any technology transformation which includes 3 interrelated continuums – technology, people and process and recognize the EHR is actually just part of the solution.
Organizations have put a lot of money and effort behind the technology and the training of the people, but sometimes the process design, redesign or workflow is slighted. An ethnographic research study found that inefficient or poorly designed processes can be a contributing factor in many implementation failures; in this case, physician engagement. Our goal was initially to observe how physicians interacted with the solution; we learned a lot more than was planned.
Ethnography is a qualitative research method that tells a story from the perspective of those being researched. It is always conducted in the field and typically involves some sort of participant observation in which the researcher actually gets involved with the activities being studied by watching how people use products in their own environments, talking to them, and asking them questions. In this case, the researchers were trained and embedded in the various hospital units as physician support personnel to help them learn how to enter computerized patient orders.
You can purchase a copy of the 6-page formal research report in our Resources section.