Mental Health News Radio

Work, An Intimate Act: Workplace Communication and EHR Adoption

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Work: An Intimate Act

Intimacy, the workplace, and EHR adoption…it reads like a joke. The kind that uses the bizarre coupling of concepts and leads to the punchline, “…so the duck says, “Put it on my bill.””

Yet, as a caregiver committed to organizational fitness I believe that a broader view of population health is where we are headed. And now that the ACA is actively defining ‘workplace wellness’, there has never been a more perfect time to explore the relational overlap of work, intimacy, and EHR adoption.

Talking about personal interactions at work implies a relatively new demand being placed on the work environment; one for sustainability that refers to personal as well as professional systems. Not that ‘relations’ haven’t always been a part of management concerns. But with the continued lengthening of work hours and decline in job security – stressors not softened by social supports like paid family leave and universal child care – interpersonal dynamics often associated with private life are making the scary leap into the workplace. And as leaders promoting the bandwidth for this conversation, it may feel risky at times – but probably not as much as we fear.

Workplace Intimacy

playing-footsieNonono…put away your notebook. We’re not talking the latest hot topic of love that’s made the office tabloid; this isn’t that kind of intimacy. What we’re talking about is acknowledged closeness with others – relational as well as proximal – that results in growth and meaning and requires skill and attention.

It’s not uncommon for a mental/behavioral healthcare worker to spend 50 hours per week in the workplace. It would be unreasonable to expect that these hours not result in friendships and intimate bonds. It isn’t surprising then that studies suggest that the quality of work relationships directly affect healthcare workers’ abilities to impact the programs and services that their practice provides.

“What’s this got to do with EHR?”

“Everybody worries about preserving the human element in the commercial encounter. Very few succeed.” –The Outsourced Self (Hothschild, 2012)

In the search for an EHR that works for your practice, you are confronted with a crowded market that does a lot of self-promoting of specialized services. Initial health information tools were designed to help caregivers lighten their load and improve relationships and to meet safety and privacy regulations – which is still of paramount importance.

Given fluctuating industry trends keeping us all on our toes, EHR vendors have enough to worry about without making matters worse with poor communication and false promises. As with any relationship, we want to feel heard and that our efforts are helping us to meet our needs. And all too often that expectation within the buyer/seller relationship is not being met.

In practice, you have a hand in being responsible for your part in the conversation. I’m not suggesting that vendor shortcomings – such as poor support, over-promising, and expensive corrective actions – be overlooked. What I suggest is exploring how the pressure of meeting the needs of your practice may make you complicit in weak communication that often exists between vendors and organizations.

Proactively managed communication within the vendor relationship is a critical success factor in EHR project success. It all comes down to asking if you are willing to uphold standards in communication – an essential component of intimacy.

Communication Continuum

communication continuum

As you probably have experienced, passive or aggressive communication can backfire when in communication with your EHR vendor.  And few of us have very far to look to identify where– in our working or personal life – we are out of balance in our continuum of passive, assertive, and aggressive communication.

Much of this can be attenuated by assigning experienced relationship managers to navigate the EHR adoption process.  These roles can help your team track accountability and equitably resource efforts in relation to gain in this process. Doing so is a defining factor in project success.

More than any other medical specialty, behavioral health attracts empathic human beings as providers.  Where can an EHR that damages practices “hide in plain site”? As a community in healthcare, mental health providers complain the least about their EHR vendors and praise the most. Even when organizations serving our mental health population are experiencing crippling issues such as their EHR not correctly balancing practice revenue, outdated technology, and being blamed by the EHR vendors for not understanding their “complex” system. An unhealthy dynamic is created between EHR vendors and behavioral health providers.  

That’s where we come in.

everythingEHR is here to assist you as you attune open communication and intimacy to work dynamics and employ intelligent tactics of engaging with EHR vendors.  Exercising this awareness may help you avoid manipulation and scamming, rely on coworkers as a team with new depth, and to talk about what’s going on in the workplace with enhanced focus and attention to client and coworker satisfaction. To ignore these may impede innovative developments within your practice.

We DO have time.  It has EVERYTHING to do with success and survival.  It IS relevant to your EHR search.

Please feel free to reach out by emailing us.  

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