Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sociotechnical systems and EHR implementations

One of my students posted this in a recent course discussion online:

"Postscript: An EHR alone can't improve an organization.  It's just technology.  Engaged, motivated people with the right tools to do their jobs (possibly including an EHR) have the power to improve an organization."

Usually when an instructor reveals their position on a posted question, it kills the thread, but this time it was worth noting that governance and people are probably the two most important success factors in EHR implementations. 

We often forget that the focus of HIT is people, whether they are patients or clinical end-users. And that an organization’s real measure is the quality and motivation of its employees, and the EHR is just a tool to help the organization meet its business and clinical objectives. 

In any complex sociotechnical system there are two areas that need to be addressed - the social and the technical. This implies that the people need as much attention as the EHR, something that I have seen many organizations forget in their haste to put in “the best” EHR system.

Of course, if the leadership in an organization is able to understand the implications of HIT implementations and use their knowledge to motivate their employees to manage change appropriately, then the chances of success are greater.