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Perception is Reality

Physician expectation realignment is a key ingredient in creating the perception of success. As cynical as this sounds it is important as a leadership or project team that we remember who our primary client is; the physician and their perception of success or failure will rapidly become your reality.

Today’s physicians face challenges and decision points never anticipated a decade ago and generally are not adequately equipped to handle the myriad of disparate data points we ask them to assimilate on a daily basis. Its an overwhelming task at times; business decisions, clinical decisions, staff workflow, IT, EMR, meaningful use and never mind the portal questions HIE, patient, health system, etc.  Is it any wonder that the average physician is convinced none of us know what we are doing and in their eyes our project is failing miserably. Who of us on the front lines hasn’t heard the phrase: “you are not installing that in my office…” So we resort to a collection of strategies ranging from executive coercion, peer pressure, and financial incentives and while these may ultimately prod many physicians to grudgingly play along they do not solve the perception problem.

So the question becomes how do we manage through this and create successful enterprise wide EMR deployments that meet both the needs of health systems as well as, affiliated physicians? There is no single strategy or magic bullet that will solve the problem but the following recommendations will create a foundation of communication and understanding within your physician community that foster a greater perception of success and during the implementation phase of a deployment that may be the most useful tool at your disposal.

Three key components for success:


  • A comprehensive governance plan: The governance plan operates as a master communication tool for maintaining synchronized understanding and alignment of expectations among all project constituents. This is a living document and is normally maintained by a steering or executive committee.  


  • Communications program: Communications programs must serve multiple masters during the course of the project. There should be specific internal documentation and communication protocols within the project and leadership teams. Equally important is the external communication plan. Project teams should employ multiple mediums to communicate with physicians and patients. Goals would include both physician and patient education, practice preparedness, communication of successes, and milestones.


  • Stakeholder engagement: There are a number of areas where the community of physicians can participate in the success of the project and it is important to foster this sense of community. Physician advisory boards contributing input on EMR configuration, data sharing, communication protocols, and privacy issues are all important areas where physician input is valuable.


There is no magic or silver bullet that will guarantee a successful project or cooperative physician base, however as simple as these three steps may seem project teams ignore them at their own peril. It is important to understand that in the independent physician community perception is reality. Vendors learned this lesson a long time ago and project teams that do not pay attention to the “talk” among their physician communities are destined to repeat the mistakes we are all so fond of attributing to vendors.