Health Information Management

Not knowing what you don't know

HIM-HIPAA Insider, October 28, 2013

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The number of HIM departments managing electronic records (or hybrid records) continues to grow. However, individuals who are leading these projects often have little experience in EHR implementations; their only guideposts in this endeavor might be a road map provided to them by their representative-often someone fresh out of college­-or the facility's selected EHR vendor.

In many cases, information provided to HIM may actually be filtered through a team member that stands in between the vendor and the HIM manager. This can lead to erroneous assumptions and details. It can look like a game of "telephone" where the message content evolves with every new person who relays it.

Healthcare news sources are buzzing about the increasing dissatisfaction voiced by the users of EHR systems and their frustration with a lack of useful workflow. Many perceive that the transition to EHRs has resulted in little improvement to data ­integrity, productivity, or privacy. This may reflect a failure or deficiency in the knowledge sets of the individuals involved with these implementations. For example, proceeding without seeking knowledgeable HIM expertise (outside of the vendor or "certified" help) and making decisions in a vacuum—even if done unintentionally—can set a facility up for failure when implementing an EHR.

"Not knowing what you don't know" can easily result in an environment devoid of best practices. It may create "buyer's remorse" about the technology, which in turn can cause duplication or revision of work after the go-live date as the consequences that jeopardize core functionality become apparent. Knowledge gaps can lead to confusion and failure to understand what has gone wrong when an EHR implementation does not furnish the expected gains in productivity or the return on investment promised by a vendor, even when other facilities have undergone implementation successfully.

Editor’s note: Darice M. Grzybowski, MA, RHIA, FAHIMA, president of HIMentors, LLC, La Grange, Ill., wrote this article for Medical Records Briefing. Continue reading “Not knowing what you don't know” on the HCPro website. Subscribers to Medical Records Briefing have free access to this article in the October issue.

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