Analysts: The Missing Link in Today’s EMRs

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Analysts: The Missing Link in Today’s EMRs
July 12, 2019

A Lack of Analysis

The news is filled with stories of EMR projects that didn’t end well.

Most report that everything seemed to be going smoothly until Activation—then things fell apart.  Suddenly, there is an abundance of confusion, workflow issues, misplaced data, and unavailable reports for helping with day to day operations.  How could this happen?

Simple… you had no analysis.

Unfortunately, many EMR projects lack enough true Analysts. Sure, there are lots of IT staff and department experts that wear the title of Analyst—but do they truly possess critical analytical and problem-solving skills?

An experienced Analyst will be able to do the job right in any important EMR implementation project.

What is an Analyst?

Within the last few decades, the term “Systems Analyst” was thrown around with little regard.  Not many actually knew what a Systems Analyst did—but it sure sounded important.

Atlanticon founder, Bill Arnold, used to dream about one day positioning himself to work with these technical Systems Analyst “wizards.”  He eventually got his wish—only to find out quickly that the wizardry behind being an Analyst was less about technical genius and more about how one approached and dealt with specific problems.

The desire to identify problems, solve complex puzzles, and communicate effectively with people at every level is the foundation for a good Analyst.

A Real Life Scenario

While managing a large EMR project in Ohio, Bill watched one of his IT employees exemplify the “Analyst” role. He was in charge of designing and tailoring the system to work with many ancillary departments. By combining his process and communication style, he quickly learned how each department worked.

Next, he involved the department experts in making key design decisions, then kept them involved as he tailored the system, piece by piece, obtaining their buy-in each step of the way. I would describe his process as a true collaboration between IT and the clinical community.

This Analyst spent hours in every department, watching how they worked, learning their processes, and analyzing any roadblocks. He documented each workflow and understood who needed to know what when they needed to know it, and why it was important.

Recurring one hour sessions were scheduled with each department expert. He sat proactively with them, explained the new system, and collected key decisions. Their decisions were tailored into the system as they watched, getting immediate feedback so he could adjust accordingly.

It worked perfectly. But….why???

The most important aspect of his approach was that the department experts learned how their system worked. He educated them first. He repeated this process as he built the files and tables, then screens, requisitions/labels, and finally, reports. At each step, he tested the work with the reps.

By the time formalized testing began, the system had already been tested dozens of times.

He analyzed their operations, involved them, and brought them along in manageable steps. The result was a completely smooth, pain-free transition to the new EMR. As you can imagine, his departments were very lucky to have an Analyst who lived up to the name!

Why is it Important to Talk About?

This “analytical” approach—or, attention to detail—has become lost in many projects.

Rarely do you see Project Analysts shadowing clinical staff to truly understand how the systems should work in the real world. Instead, Analysts are often assigned too many departments at one time, never giving them the time they need to truly help even one.

Understanding the problem better will revive the discussion and force hospitals to consider what’s at risk by hiring an ill-equipped Analyst for the job.

HIMSS Analytics study

A recent HIMSS Analytics study in conjunction with Vocera and reported via HCI Innovation Group reflects that collaboration among clinical and IT strongly supports what we have witnessed over the past several years when it comes to Analysts.

Analysts—or rather, true Analysts—are not being utilized and/or not being utilized properly.

HIMSS Analytics summed up their study on collaboration between IT and clinical in the following statement:

“Successful adoption of technology for clinical collaboration and workflow depends on deeply understanding the context in which frontline caregivers work, and enabling the outcomes they expect. These outcomes include factors related to quality and safety, such as reducing adverse events and injuries and being responsive to patients. They also include factors related to clinician satisfaction, healthcare quality, and hospital efficiency,” the report authors wrote.

Advice from Atlanticon’s Experts

Our advice to any hospital is as follows:

  • -Make sure your Analysts understand and appreciate their role.
  • -Recognize that an Analyst should “analyze”—they should make good decisions and strive for the best possible outcome.
  • -Assign Analysts to no more than two or three departments so they have time to really learn and care for each one.
  • -Position Analysts with the right background accordingly, such as assigning those with clinical experience to clinical departments.
  • -Impress the need to look at every workflow with a watchful eye and identify operational improvements during the implementation of any system.
  • -Put the right number of skilled Analysts in place before starting a project.
  • -Be sure that your Analysts have a process to follow and understand that Analysts need the freedom to do just that…analyze.
  • -Be aware that not everyone has what it takes to be an Analyst.

 

Follow this advice and you’ll find that your Analysts are the key to better EMR adoption!

Your project can be so much more successful if you hire the right Analysts. To get information on our available Analysts, simply contact us at Business.Services@Atlanticon.net.

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