No, I’m not talking about the bottom line on the eye chart; I’m talking about your EMR adoption. With incentives and penalties looming on the horizon many organizations from multi-hospital health systems to small physician practices are struggling with the if, when, and how questions around adopting an EMR. Reasons cited are all over the board. There are physicians who don’t see the point or think it’s not worth the effort; nurses who see it as an obstacle to delivering patient care; and CFOs who can’t see past the incentives and penalties. If any of this sounds familiar, then you have a Vision problem.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary vision can be defined as the act or power of imagination or mode of seeing or conceiving; unusual discernment or foresight. I believe the lack of enthusiasm by some members of the healthcare community has nothing to do with their ability to see, but rather their ability to foresee the true potential of an EMR. I’ve read many of the articles and studies describing the technical, financial and logistical obstacles to success, and I know that they are real. However, I think the issue of effectively communicating a vision of EMRs in the future of healthcare delivery is often overlooked.
In fairness to those who haven’t bought in to the vision, it’s probably not their fault. Creating buy-in to a vision requires more than communicating facts and figures, talking about government mandates, and providing training. To cast a vision, leaders need to inspire their organizations to achieve new levels of quality, service, and care delivery for their patients. Leaders must not characterize EMR deployment as a strategic initiative, a necessary evil, or a community standard – no one is willing to sacrifice or work hard to achieve any of these things. Leaders must help their constituents see how critical EMR implementation is to the advancement of healthcare delivery and improved healthcare outcomes.
Ok, right about now you’re probably thinking that no EMR implementation is going to do all that, and you’re right – not once it’s implemented, only when it has reached its full potential. Vision is not conceiving what things will be like tomorrow, it’s conceiving what things will be like ten years from tomorrow.
Probably one of the most inspiring and often quoted speeches ever given is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have A Dream speech. I do not intend to compare our current efforts to improve healthcare to the Civil Rights movement; to do so would make light of the Civil Rights movement and all Dr. King worked to accomplish. My point is that the speech was so inspiring and so remembered because Dr. King cast a vision. He didn’t say, I think we should try to change things. He didn’t say if we work hard we can get ahead. Dr. King said:
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
When Dr. King was done casting his vision, people were inspired because they could see what he saw and they believed they could do whatever it took to achieve the vision.
I believe that many organizations have a vision problem and, until everyone can see the vision, we will continue to struggle.