Transitioning to Computers and Electronic Medical Records in Healthcare Case Study

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HMS (healthcare management systems) and EMRs (electronic medical records) have been widely praised as significantly adding to patient safety and quality of care. They can permit healthcare institutions to keep more accurate databases on patients, all in one location, and can ensure that a patient’s full medical records are available, even if the patient is not responsive and the patient’s family is not available. Prior treatments, current and past medications, and patient allergies can all be easily accessed with a point and a click. But transitioning to such healthcare systems is not always without issues and often involves a significant investment of time and money.



First of all, from a staffing point of view, change management is needed to ensure that the transition is effective. One helpful way to view change of any kind within an organization is that of Lewin’s Change Management Model, which suggests that organizations must first have an unfreezing period, where critical actors are convinced of the need for change. Particularly in healthcare, where providers must often balance highly stressful days with learning how to operate a new system, the need for communicating the urgency of the change is vital. Next is the actual change stage itself.

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Again, in healthcare, to generate buy-in from providers, who are, in actuality, the persons mainly navigating the change, it is necessary to invest time, money, and energy into this process to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible and successful. Then and only then can the final phase be realized, that of the refreezing process, so the new procedures, in this case accessing medical records, becomes second nature (“Lewin’s Change Management Model,” 2018).



However, even when management is committed to supporting the shift to EMRs or another type of technologically forward-thinking system, problems can still arise to delays or prevent a successful conclusion to the change. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), electronic records “improve patient management, clinic efficiency and health outcomes” by ensuring coherency and continuity of care; particularly as people are more geographically mobile today and often transition between many different providers, the use of EMH can be vital (Jawhari et al. 2016, p. 247). But lack of system reliability can frustrate providers, as can a lack of interoperability between specific EHRs and other available systems (Jawhari et al. 2016)



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References

Jawhari, B., Keenan, L., Zakus, D., Ludwick, D, Isaac, A., Saleh, A. & Hayward, R. (2016).  Barriers and facilitators to Electronic Medical Record (EMR) use in an urban slum. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 94, 246-254. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2016.07.015

Lewin’s change management model. (2018). Mind Tool. Retrieved from: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newPPM_94.htm

Schaeffer, J. (2013). Breaking up (with an EHR) is hard to do. For The Record, 25 (14), 22. Retrieved from: http://www.fortherecordmag.com/archives/1013p22.shtml

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