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Insights from the Global (Non-US) EMR Implemen-tations Report

Traveling to non-US regions, we encountered questions about how well certain vendors do in terms of implementations, costs, scope, go-live timelines, and so on. The concerns mainly centered on clinical and administrative solutions. We didn't have the detailed information needed to answer those questions, so we set out to find information to better understand how EMR vendors are meeting customer needs during implementation, how they deliver globally, and how they keep timelines and budgets under control. 

The 2019 Global (Non-US) EMR Implementations report focuses on non-US contracts signed between January 2016 and September 2018. Feedback was also collected from some organizations who have an ongoing implementation that started prior to January 2016.

Participants also had to be inpatient hospitals that included an EMR piece in their contract. 

Implementation Struggles

I was surprised that 30% of the participating organizations reported going over budget and that 40% are going over deadlines. One struggle is resource constraints. Many vendors can't find an optimal point in resources, and many vendors oversell and don’t have resources to allocate for successful implementations. 

Some vendors have been doing implementations for quite some time and base their time frames on previous projects. They are motivated to finish on time so that they can move on to the next project. In those situations, we’ve learned that there is no proper follow-up between the sales team and the implementation team. That is another reason that some vendors go over budget. 

Implementation Success for Vendors

The number one factor that leads to success is for the vendor to be up front and transparent with their clients. They should share best practices even before signing the contract. Vendors need to have their clients' best interests in mind and understand their clients’ needs and resource constraints (the hospitals have to hire resources too). Unfortunately, some vendors are more interested in short-term financial gains than in providing long-term customer success. But it is crucial for vendors to create an open line of communication between sales, implementation, go-live, and post-go-live teams.

Vendors who consistently have very successful implementations are very good at implementing their methodology universally over and over again. They inform their clients of their methodology before the clients sign the contracts. Successful vendors have terms and are prescriptive. And when they sign a contract, they know how many people will be needed from their side and the client’s side.

Implementation Success for Providers

I hope that providers will take a close look at their vendors and really understand who they are. Do site visits, talk to existing clients, look at independent research firms such as KLAS®, and understand that the relationship is long term. Clients marry the vendor, so to speak. Therefore, it’s important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the vendor and your own organization and to know how to overcome those weaknesses. Sometimes people go by the hype of the market and don't do their due diligence.

Sometimes the management team wants to go live as soon as possible, but the IT department is running the project and wants to take things slowly to ensure that the process is good. That is another challenge that many organizations face. Synergy is needed between the management, IT, and clinician teams (clinicians need to give input too). As matter fact, we have learned that successful organizations are led by clinical teams when implementing an EMR.

For the first time in a report, we asked vendors to share their best practices (though we didn't allow them to see each other's information before publication). In the full report, you can find those best practices in a section called Vendor Insights, and I highly encourage readers to look at those insights. This will enable prospective clients to have a better understanding of their desired vendors.




      Photo cred: Adobe Stock, sudok1