Implementation of EHR in a Hospital – SWOT Analysis
Implementation of EHR in a Hospital – SWOT Analysis
The continued demand for improved quality care and safety for patients has boosted the incorporation of information and communication technology (ICT). For this reason, numerous ICT systems including the electronic health record (EHR) have been adopted to assist physicians and other professionals in their daily endeavors with patients. Primarily, an efficient EHR involves longitudinal electronic records of health documentation generated by care delivery encounters such as vital signs, progress notes, laboratory data, and past medical history. Such a system should be capable of generating complete records of clinical encounters with the patients (Busch, 2008). Ultimately, the EHR has proven to play a fundamental role in the hospital environment; it is vital to facilitate favorable conditions.
Notwithstanding the benefits associated with EHR, it is essential to conduct a SWOT analysis and determine the implications it will have on the hospital. Such an analysis serves to ascertain changes that can be made to improve the system. Conducting this analysis can reveal the strengths and the pitfalls of the system. Additionally, it highlights the opportunities that can be taken advantage of and provide measures designed to mitigate threats to the system (CCH Incorporated, 2010). The conclusion of such an analysis provides essential information regarding the HER. This information can be used to improve the system and make it an efficient tool for professionals and patients.
This report is a strategic plan for implementing an electronic health record (EHR) in Dr. Smith Health Center. A number of driving factors dictate the implementation of the EHR in the system. The major consideration involves avoiding usage of time and money resources when EHR conversion is applied after the creation of paper records. Since the EHR system is to be operated without an IT staff, there is a need to give particular attention to vendors that offer full implementation of workstations, servers, and networks (Eichenwald and Petterson, 2008). Even though it is not possible to speculate the longevity of the vendor, it would help in deciding on an EHR that will be in operation for a long time. Even though the hospital will incur extra costs for hiring staff to run the system, the management will no longer have to attend to tedious tasks.
The strengths of the intended hospital include high interest for implementing personal and electronic health records. This strength is inspired by the need to apply efficient means of generating complete records. The other strength revolves around the hospital’s good center of attention on long term objectives such as creating frameworks and models. Additionally, the hospital’s need to express profiles, models and other work products in non-paper and easily readable terms is another strength (Gartee, 2012). Furthermore, such models and profiles can be presented in a manner understandable to technical, clinical and business communities.
Furthermore, if the goals of implementing this system are met, it will provide sufficient time to correct anomalies in the system, workstation and network. Ultimately, the monthly savings compared to estimated costs of operating the paper record system will reveal a huge difference. Hence, Dr. Smith Health Center will be able to make operational savings. The data system in the hospital can allow effective communication and outreach efforts. Additionally, it can facilitate alignment of data related artifacts and functions and excellent cooperation with other systems (Eichenwald and Petterson, 2008). Moreover, the system will present the professionals in the health center with an opportunity to attend to other pertinent matters. Lastly, the current Hospital industry demands improved quality care and safety for patients.
A number of threats plague the implementation of the EHR in the hospital. The high cost of purchasing the system is one factor that compromised this exercise. This factor is not limited to purchase cost as it also includes installing costs such as employee hours, downtime, hiring consultants, employing technical support and training the users. The software cycle is a continuous consideration that requires the software to be modified and updated throughout its existence. Furthermore, the costs associated with upgrades and updates require consideration when making decisions regarding the software. Additionally, some vendors of this software charge a fee for providing technical training and assistance. This makes it another weakness of this system.
Additionally, the aspect of back up and restoration presents another weakness of the EHR. The burden of considering whether the software back up should be done automatically and immediately or manually and at regular intervals is yet another weakness. As such, this requires proper monitoring by qualified personnel. This also involves ensuring quick, complete, and efficient, restoration of the backup (Gartee and Beal, 2011). Compatibility is another weakness associated with the installation of the EHR. The hospital may already be using a system that does not support the EHR. Such a situation requires necessary changes to be made on the existing software and hardware. At the extreme, this may mean getting rid of the existing system and purchasing another, thus incurring more costs.
Understanding the opportunities of implementing the EHR requires scrutinizing the opportunities. Therefore, the opportunities of this system lie with allowing various vendors to present their tenders and provide a detailed description of their products. Conducting this exercise should give the hospital an opportunity of selecting the vendor offering the EHR with the most suitable quality and price. According to Lehmann, (2006), the hospital’s management should look to hire an all round professional with the expertise that pertain to the system. As such, extra costs of training staff, conducting maintenance, and making upgrades will be alleviated. In addition, the hospital can use reliable back up for the EHR data. A policy should be initiated to ensure data is properly stored. For example, this policy should require data to be stored in a spacious hard disk, and that this activity is carried out at a specified basis (Institute of Medicine (U.S.), 2013).
If the task of running the previous system rests with the rationale of an individual consultant, then the hospital runs the risk of losing the consultant. Another threat to this system rests with competing with other institutions for the scarce workforce with the talent of running the system. Running the EHR is a complicated task and requires talented personnel with relevant qualifications. Such personnel are hard to find. Furthermore, the system runs the risk of not meeting the speculated expectations (Scarlat and Halamka, 2012). Hence, the system may end up consuming more than the expected resources thus leaving the hospital in an economic crisis.
A hospital is similar to many other organizations and therefore, faces similar problems when engaging culture change. Implementing a new information and communication system poses the risk of compromising normal hospital proceedings. Additionally, such a system has no means of countering any disaster. In the event of failure, activities in the hospital would be brought to a halt unless the management reverts to paper recording until repairs are made. Additionally, the United States, for example, passed in 2010 the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Gartee and Beal, 2011). This statute provides health authorities with the authority to conduct random checks in hospitals to ensure health standards are attended. Therefore, in situations where the EHR system is not up to date or differs with stipulated standards, the health center runs the risk of being shut down.
Key Success Factors
In order to implement and maintain an efficient EHR, Dr. Smith Health Center has to consider the computing and networking needs in this practice. After installation is completed, it is important to establish an agreement on maintenance for any support needs that should be conducted annually. For this process to transition smoothly, an office manager needs to be employed and will be responsible for overseeing the purchase of office supplies and the installation of computing and network software. Depending on the speed of computing and network installation, the office manager should first undergo training through the EHR vendor. The office manager will in turn train junior staff in order to save on training expenses charged by the vendor (Hamilton, 2009).
The practice should be compliant with security, privacy, and electronic record standards from the point of commencement (Gartee and Beal, 2011). Considering the initiation of EHR, the office manager and his or her staff should work to ensure operational costs are lower than when the paper method of recording was in use. An efficient EHR should create an avenue where medical equipment, physicians, staff, and most importantly the number of patients will grow (Busch, 2008). Ultimately, the management will take pride in operating an efficient and error free system and patients will be satisfied with the service.
Primarily, the EHR represents a core application that covers the virtual aspect of healthcare and makes it possible to conduct transverse analysis of medical records. As such, the analysis is conducted along several units or services, thus introducing new computation models, tools, and technologies. Beyond the organizational, technical, functional, and scientific requirements, there is also a need to attend to legal and ethical needs, as well as information security, data quality, privacy, and access control. The main goal of this exercise involves replacing paper documents with electronic ones, reducing costs and time, and increasing data processing. Assisting patients should be faster, have improved quality and be effective, after this system is implemented. With this system, it is possible to improve and facilitate care in health institutions (Walker, Bieber, and Richards, 2005).
In conclusion, conducting a SWOT
analysis reveals that implementing the EHR in a health institution such as Dr.
Smith Health Center leads to improved services and medical care. The system
holds a number of threats and weaknesses, but most of these can be mitigated if
appropriate measures are taken. Dr, Smith
should allow vendors to present tenders and select the most appropriate one.
Additionally, the health center can mitigate threats to the system by conforming
to the legal, ethical, technical, functional, and scientific requisites of the
system. When the threats and weaknesses are attended to, Dr. Smith Health
Center will manage to improve its dealings with patients, optimize management
functions, and become more profitable.
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CCH Incorporated. (2010). Electronic health record incentive program: Proposed rule. Chicago, IL: CCH, Wolters Kluwer Law & Business.
Eichenwald, S., & Petterson, B. J. (2008). Using the electronic health record in the health care provider practice. Clifton Park, NY: Thomson Delmar Learning.
Gartee, R. (2012). Essentials of electronic health records. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice Hall.
Gartee, R., & Beal, S. (2011). Electronic health records and nursing. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice Hall.
Lehmann, H. P. (2006). Aspects of electronic health record systems. New York: Springer.
Hamilton, B. (2009). Electronic health records. Boston: McGraw Hill Higher Education.
Institute of Medicine (U.S.). (2013). Key capabilities of an electronic health record system: Letter report. Washington, D.C: National Academies Press.
Scarlat, A., & Halamka, J. (2012). Electronic health record: A systems analysis of the medications domain. Boca Raton: Taylor & Francis.
Walker, J. M., Walker, J. M., Bieber, E. J., & Richards, F. (2005). Implementing an electronic health record system. London: Springer.