Advocate for the patient to engage docs in IT projects

Selling new projects to doctors requires coordination, diplomacy and empathy. A winning strategy involves a targeted communication plan for doctors, "at the elbow" training and easy-to-access support, according to an article at GovernmentHealthIT.

Healthcare organizations should build on the lessons learned during their EHR implementations to gain physician buy-in for new IT projects, speakers stressed at the recent Healthcare Business Intelligence Forum.

"It's like herding cats to get doctors to change, so be careful how you engage doctors and create a partnership with them," Edith Dees, CIO of Holy Spirit Health System, advised. "Pretend it's an 80-20 partnership in the doctor's direction and you'll get where you want to go."

Another tip: Make it as low-risk as possible--especially if you're implementing something as potentially intimidating as predictive analytics, suggested Actian Healthcare general manager Lance Speck.

And focus on how the new technology will improve patient care--doctors' main concern--rather than how it will increase revenue or other issues.

"You'll grab a doctor's attention if you advocate for their patient," said Susan Kressly, M.D., founding partner at Kressly Pediatrics. 

Lack of physician engagement in EHR governance is one of its biggest challenges, according to a HIMSS Analytics study released earlier this month. Of the respondents who said they have an EHR governance structure in place, 63 percent said their structure was developed in a cross-functional manner, meaning the voices of nurses, IT personnel and others were included, however.

Bonnie Cassidy, senior director of health information management innovation at Nuance, stressed the need for physician engagement as organizations implement ICD-10.

"The best way to communicate with physicians is peer-to-peer, so there's a strong need to engage physician champions," she said.

To learn more:
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