Arnold Bennett, a prominent English novelist and journalist, once said: “Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.” Bennett could have been talking about anything, really, but relating it to health care is not so farfetched.
A May 2012 study by HealthSystemCIO revealed physicians are struggling with change management pertaining to a number of new systems and health IT initiatives such as computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems, electronic physician documentation and patient engagement initiatives among others.
Respondents said that CPOE (34.7%) caused the most change management because it is more than just implementation, but also the continuation of tech support and maintenance to refine the system. Physician documentation ranked second among respondents (30.4%) since it covers a large spectrum, starting with ICD-10 implementation and how it will impact workflow. Patient engagement was last among respondents (17.3%), with providers agreeing that patients are engaged in care interactions, but lack engagement when away from health care settings.
The study also looked at the most difficult part of change management. The majority of respondents said that changing individual behaviors ranks as the most difficult, followed by changing processes on an organizational level and finding sufficient executive level support. The final challenge is finding the human and financial resources to impact the transformation process.
While the study sheds light on some health IT initiatives that cause strife among caregivers, some refuse to accept change. In 2011, one provider in eastern Massachusetts quit practicing due to EHR use and informed his patients with a letter. The provider was so challenged as he tried to integrate the system into his workflow, that wait times for patients surpassed one hour.
Will the stream of new health IT initiatives cause more providers to step away? It’s possible when providers have to manage technology adoption with increased federal regulation deadlines.