Big Brother, meet Big EMR

One of the major features Ankhos delivers is the ability to track a patient’s treatment on a minute-by-minute basis. It keeps records and times  of patient indoc, the movement of a patient through the office, when treatments are started and stopped, any supplementary medicines administered during treatment… the list goes on.

In doing this tracking, Ankhos also keeps track of which employee is doing this patient handling and treatment administration. Times and employee signatures are associated with all events, so an interested  user can see all of the actions of employees throughout the day.

This is great for safety and accountability, but there is a sinister side to this event tracking we must consider.

Put in the hands of an irresponsible office administrator, Ankhos (or any EMR product) could be used to detect and  punish employee ‘idleness’.  This may sound great to an administrator who rules with an iron fist, but the danger is that employees become frightened that if they’ don’t perform enough actions in Ankhos (or elsewhere), it will reflect poorly on their ‘performance’.  In the worst case, their goal becomes not to provide the best and safest treatment possible, but to click on as many things possible to show their ‘work’.

A solid understanding of how all EMR products are used is essential to good employee management. Putting too much value on the time spent by employees on such programs can make them feel the warm coffee breath of Big Brother breathing down their necks. This could lead to disgruntled employees who develop animosity towards their EMR software.  The involvment of the employees will suffer, making the quality of user feedback decline, as well.  This would make improving the software that much harder.

A good administrator will keep in mind that different parts of the office may have different people designated to different actions, and that not all productive work is logged.  For any EMR implementation, not just Ankhos, it is important to carefully consider the degree to which you judge an employee’s performance based solely on events logged by EMR software.

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2 Responses to “Big Brother, meet Big EMR”

  1. Marcia Orlowski Says:

    Great observations. My experience is that always a competent manager or leader must keep thier eye on the ball. That is, where are we going and how are we going to get there, and whether or not we are off course or should change course or one of the elements is not doing well, and maybe the tool has become more important than the user. Employees and info made available from the tools are important element of making and grounding these judgements. As with any tool, like a hammer, it can be used toward taking actions that bring value, or it can be used to create nasty damaging messes. Building and maintaining trust among employees and managers is key to using any kind of process, tool, or evaluation program for full benefit. When trust and the wisdom of being awake to what you are creating are left out of the mix, no tool, no matter how good it is, is ever enough to move toward desired outcomes.

  2. orlowski Says:

    Marcia, Thanks for the comment.

    I am not a professional manager, but I certainly keep my eyes wide open to the managers I have had in the past, and the most successful ones simply stand out of the way and let the experts do the work.

    My old professor said that the key to management was to only hire people smarter than you and that advice certainly served him well in his career.

    We EMR vendors must remember to keep out of the way and let the users decide what it takes to make their work safer and more efficient.

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