New Book: ECM and Electronic Health Records

Your truly contributed to yet another book on ECM this year, which has finally been published: Enterprise Content Management and the Electronic Health Record.

The majority was written by a former colleague, Sandra Nunn. My contribution was about the technical challenges of ECM and Records Management when it came to medical records.

Thanks to cash incentives built in to the HITECH Act, hospitals can benefit significantly by moving to electronic medical records... but it must be done carefully! These systems need to be quick, pleasant, and nearly foolproof. I've seen quite a few, and I wish just one of these EMR/EHR software companies would invest heavily in some User Experience developers... pretty doesn't equal usable.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: doctors are busy and expensive: forcing them to use outdated systems doesn't save any money. It just shifts costs around, and makes the hospital less efficient. In fact, one Harvard Business School study showed that most hospitals saw zero cost savings from electronic medical records! How can this be?

"One reason computerization may not be improving efficiency and quality of care: many medical software programs are designed primarily to help hospitals with their billing, accounting and registration needs, not their clinical work."

This could just be a symptom of a greater problem: if you focus on accounting rather than your core competency (healing people), things inevitably go astray... or, as Larry Ellison once screamed loudly, "your accounting procedures will never be your competitive advantage!" They are important things; but not the most important things.

In any event, if you're in the medical industry, be sure to check out this book... or others in the AHIMA library. And if you want to improve the quality of health care, or lower the cost, be sure to focus on clinical results: not accounting results.

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