I currently work for a local home care company, Angels Care Home Health. Currently, I am working on a project in which we are creating a new department that is responsible for the development and implementation of the electronic health record (EHR). Due to the size of the organization and the number of clients, the development of the EHR is a daunting and time consuming task. For these reasons, the EHR project runs like a strategic business unit (SBU). As an SBU, the project runs almost completely separate from the company drawing on three goals as its driving force: 1. Create a unified and cohesive system that incorporates EHRs into all aspects of the organization. 2. Create a system of EHRs that are secure and compliant with regulations such as HIPAA and other relevant laws. 3. Improve organizational efficiency and customer service through the use of EHRs.
The EHR is basically an electronic version of the paper history of a patient. The EHR is an easily transferrable form of the patient chart and history (Borycki, Kushniruk, Keay, Nicoll, Anderson, & Anderson, 2009). The government views EHRs as an effective means for reducing healthcare cost and EHRs are considered mandatory for health care compliance (Ficery, 2011). HITECH Act (part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009), which dictates that US hospitals must implement and demonstrate what is called “meaningful use” of electronic medical records (EMR)…roughly half of US hospitals are at risk of incurring penalties when enforcement begins in 2015 (Ficery, 2011).
While the use of EHRs does promise lower cost and better access, the problem that many institutions are having is that in order to become compliant, health care organizations must overhaul their IT infrastructures (Ficery, 2011). Currently, 50% of US hospitals are at risk of incurring penalties due to none compliance (Ficery, 2011). The restructuring of IT systems to meet the regulations may not be possible by 2015, for most organizations. For Angels Care Home Health, the challenge will mean finding new methods for restructuring system that is less time consuming and staying within budget. The following SWOT analysis details these opportunities as well as some risks based on the goals of the project.
The SWOT analysis is used to identify the various factors involved in the EHR system design and implementation. Using the SWOT, threats such as the regulatory issues and competitors can be realized. One of the major aspects discovered in this process was that there are large opportunities to expand the organization in different ways. For example, by creating an EHR system, the organization is also able to expand its ability to be patient-centered by increasing user applications.
Imagine a system that utilized patient-records to create diet and nutritional information concerning the patient. Users could access this information without actually placing the data in jeopardy through downloading. While this concept is only a suggested idea and is not part of the current project, it realization was made during the analysis of the project and it provided value for the undertaking of this project.
Another area of importance that was realized during analysis was that the records were going to need an extreme level of redundancy and authority. These attributes were needed in order to solve the issue of one individual accidently deleting vital information from the record. This problem was realized in the weaknesses of the project and allowed planners to adjust software planning in order to accommodate this issue.
Software development was also realized as a large weakness due to the fact that it would need to be designed with many stakeholders in mind along with the current operations processes of the organization. This would mean a large amount of research into stakeholder needs.
Because the organization is on a timetable to meet regulatory compliance, the project is going to move forward. The SWOT is still a valuable tool in the planning because it highlights the issues that will need to be dealt with in order to develop and fully integrate an EHR system. Without the SWOT the organization would not be able to focus this project properly from the beginning.
Borycki, E. M., Kushniruk, A., Keay, E., Nicoll, J., Anderson, J., & Anderson, M. (2009). Toward an integrated simulation approach for predicting and preventing technology-induced errors in healthcare: implications for healthcare decision-makers. Healthcare Quarterly Toronto Ont., 90-96. Ficery, K. (2011, March). Electronic Medical Records: Meeting the Compliance Challenge. Retrieved from Accenture: http://www.accenture.com/us-en/outlook/Pages/outlook-online-2011-electronic-medical-records.aspx