Hospital Executives' Leadership Critical to EHR Implementation

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives for HealthLeaders Media , September 13, 2010

Throughout the process, the CEO and other executive team members can best develop support by demonstrating that the EHR process has sufficient financial support, and that digital records symbolize a clinical transformation process that hospital leadership plans to follow from this point forward.

While support for the adoption of EHRs needs to be supported by key providers and medical committees within the facility, senior executives need to create the vision for where the enterprise is going, and the need to increase quality and efficiency.  Specific improvement metrics to track progress and outcomes should be targeted and, at this stage, should include HITECH measures.

CIOs need to have positive and trusting relationships with other senior executives in the organization. All executives need to work together, sending a clear message that the use of an EHR system is not optional but will become a condition of employment or practicing medicine at the organization.

Executive Guidance

  • The EHR-enabled transformation should be a thread that runs through the organization's overall strategic fabric, and it should be documented in its strategic plan. The organization's board must also be actively involved in monitoring progress to an appropriate level of assurance.
  • Senior executives, led by the CEO, should agree on the transformational scope, the approaches to organizational change, and resourcing the effort. They need to agree that the EHR implementation is a top priority for the organization for the next few years.
  • The CEO needs to set the vision for the implementation, truly understanding how EHRs will help an organization achieve clinical transformation to greatly improve quality, safety and the patient experience. IT efforts then support these goals.
  • A senior executive, preferably a clinical executive, should take on the role of the project sponsor, and have full support from, and access to, the CEO. The project should be viewed as a top-driven strategic priority.
  • As executives move from planning to communication, they need to emphasize the importance of the project to the organization, connecting the EHR back to the organization's missions and goals. They need to be in a visible leading role and be supportive of the initiative by "leading the conversation."
  • Beyond words alone, executives need to commit funding and additional staffing as needed, as well as their own efforts. They should participate in key transformational activities, including governance meetings and communication events.
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