Clinical Empowerment in Health IT

by Patty Daly, DNP, RN-BC

As I begin 2015, it is helpful to reflect on the previous year or years and the lessons learned.  Patient engagement was a significant theme in the health IT community.  In fact, today the call is for patient empowerment versus engagement.   Engagement, and more importantly, empowerment is critical in the implementation of EHRs from a clinical perspective.  Yet at times we are still challenged to make sure clinicians are appropriately represented in these projects.

All projects should have governing structures which represent all stakeholders.  These governing structures need to be chaired by the parties who will be directly responsible for the successful implementation and ongoing maintenance of the solution.  This includes clinicians as well as health IT professionals.  Informatics clinicians (physicians, nurses, pharmacists, etc.), play a crucial role in these implementations as they are the liaison between their executive team and end users.  Typically, these individuals must be educated on the solutions so they can understand the impact of their workflows during the design and build components of the implementation and in turn educate their peers and leadership.  They need to be considered the experts and included in all decisions.  They too, like patients, need to be more than engaged; they need to be empowered to make decisions.

I believe during the execution of some projects IT professionals sometimes miss pertinent data and experience clinicians can share.  These professionals have become  so focused on the project that the miss the opportunity to listen and learn.  It is easy to lose these details in conversations where IT specific languages and mnemonics are used.  All health IT professionals need to remember the basic principles we have learned in the past as we engage across our healthcare organizations and communities.  We need to broaden the scope of who should be included in the decision making process extending outside of the typical “walls” of the organization.  So I challenge you to help expand on the tenets of a successful project led by empowered clinicians, in conjunction with IT professionals, who are:

  • Inclusive (vs. exclusive)
  • Effective Educators
  • Partners
  • Effective communicators
  • Expert Listeners
  • Encourage diversity
  • Mentors

This list is far from complete. I encourage you to add to the list.  But, more importantly, remember that like the book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, by Robert Fulguhm, these are basic principles that we have learned in the past.



About Christel Anderson

Christel Anderson, is HIMSS Director, Clinical Informatics
This entry was posted in Davies Awards, Usability and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Clinical Empowerment in Health IT

  1. procialblog says:

    This was very eloquently put Patty. Working for a Health IT company means not just knowing who your core customer base is but genuinely listening to them so that the service we provide is always changing to meet the needs of their feedback. Thanks for the gentle reminder of the important values that IT individuals should be cognizant of in the medical profession.

  2. Emilio Pacheco says:

    Hi there,

    My name is Emilio and am taking RN to BSN courses. One of them is about learning from Informatics Nurse Specialists. This blog is very informative about how empowerment can be achieved. Do you report to an IT department, or to nursing? Any differences between the two?

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