Can IT solve the electronic health records challenge?

An interesting article in InfoWorld by Ephraim Schwartz that relates back to a number of my earlier blogs, including “Will Obama get IT right?”, and discusses the challenges of implementing a “universal” EHR system – in this case in the U.S. – but the same issues exist elsewhere. They include:

  1. Aligning the reward system
  2. Scalability (among other technical issues)
  3. Standards (we’ve never had a shortage of those – if only we could have one!)
  4. Privacy
A vendor comment near the end captures the essence of the challenge here:
“…deploying an EHR system is just like implementing any big enterprise application, only the enterprise in this case is bigger, and the stakes are higher.”
Given the track record of enterprise systems in much smaller and less complex environments, and the history of health systems such as the UK NHS National Program for IT , I would describe this as an overly optimistic understatement.
While this is undoubtedly the right thing to do, how it is done will be the key to success or failure. If it is managed as the huge organizational and behavioural change programme that it is, it will have a chance of succeeding – if it is managed as a technology project, it will fail.
As the article concludes:
“...the challenge of orchestrating and satisfying so many stakeholders remains…to make it happen will require a great deal of cooperation, innovation and investment…this shift will likely happen at a less ambitious level than the political rhetoric suggest…
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One thought on “Can IT solve the electronic health records challenge?

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