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Author: Elyse, PMP, CPHIMS
July 24, 2009

As we are all updating our strategic plans, assessing the impact of ARRA's meaningful use. It is also time to do a review our your physician leadership engagement for IT efforts. Looking at past projects or current initiatives, let's limit our review to those that impacted the Physician's Work Life.

For these projects how engaged were the physicians?

  • Had limited to miniscule involvement in decision making? Did you often have to practice the decision making mechanism of right of last refusal? If this is the case, you have a red flag organizational risk.

  • Was there MD engagement just at the Demos? After the Demos did participation severely wan? Some pre-work and processes will need to established cause this is our cautionary yellow flag organizational risk.

  • Was one or a small group of physicians active sponsors and champions of the initiative? Did they work collaboratively and not passive/aggressively against the initiation? If you answered both questions yes, you have a green flag and should probably write a paper about physician engagement.

Fully engaged Physician Champions and Leadership during the implementation and adoptions of an EHR is an essential component success. The positive item is that there are sure fire ways to engage physician leadership.

A physician's focus is quality care for the patient and having time efficiencies are an added bonus. As one proceeds with the implementation of an EHR a benefit to strive for is to match the physician's goal of quality patient care and efficiencies. Perhaps linking rule rollout to core quality measures? Perhaps providing tablets and a wireless infrastructure to provide ease of use? Perhaps reviewing the screen flow for ease of use and match of workflow? It is important to illustrate the common purpose between the physician's focus and the EHR's anticipated benefits. It is also important to install the cultural value of partnering with the physicians. I'd seen the behavior instantly brought about by following a physician for a day in the life. There are all common ways to assure physician engagement.

Another common to physician engagement is to determine who is a advocate, who will go along, and who belongs to the no-no crowd. Engage the physician change leaders of the organizations. See if some of them can be on the project team, offer rewards for their participation. Support those physician change leaders who have the courage to change the way it was always done. Look to have one or all of the MD is the C-Suite as physician champions. Be sure the project team and project sponsors are available to the physician change leaders.

Finally assure the implementation plan has components to quickly show and modify screens to assure usability. Another component to add to the implementation plan is to establish an EMR support structure which is focused upon nimbleness for change while being respectful of downstream impacts. It will be good to have a way to make small change for the realization of quick gains. Establishing top ten EMR enhancements process improvement team, which reviews necessary edits, rules, and screen changes, is good item to have inplace before the live event. Using these tactics assure physician engagement won't wane due to slow responsiveness to suggested changes.

Hopefully, by using these tips, your organization can quantify physician engagement and reach out to assure the physicians active participation as the organization replaces paper siloed processes with electronic integrated standardized workflows. Using these tips will help assure the transition is successful.

Further Reading on our Getting Ready for Meaningful Use EHR:

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