Our entire massive hospital system is switching over to a new electronic medical record (EMR). From the outside, this doesn’t sound at all monumental, or even complicated. But for us, it’s pretty huge.

Up until now, we’ve been using five or six (or more) different programs, one for every distinct clinical task: scheduling, charting, lab ordering, radiology ordering, billing, et cetera. Some systems interfaced, some didn’t, or not very well. There has been a lot of extra complexity and wasted time.

So, we’re adopting a new EMR that does it all. It actually is quite a good program, but it’s big, and it’s so… different.

The training has been painful, and today is the big day that our OLD systems go down and the NEW system is live. This highly anticipated day has been referred to as “Go-live” for the past many months, if not a year or more.

It is also my day off.

I was sort of glad about that, because I figured I would have 24 hours for bugs and kinks to be worked out before I had to face (and interface with) the new system.

Then my pager went off at 4:45 a.m.

It was a call from a miserable-sounding, very sick patient of mine. They needed prescriptions sent in urgently, plus a status check later today, and they may end up in the emergency room or admitted… In short, I had to figure out how to write and electronically fax in prescriptions, send a flagged message to the nurses, and document in the chart, all using our brand-new EMR, on day #1.

But I figured it out. Yes, I sat at my dining room table and fussed through my pile of printed tip sheets and the online user’s guide and I stuttered and struggled, but, somehow, I made these necessary things happen.

It was ideal that I was alone, and had no one to complain to. Were others present, the struggle would have triggered griping, which then (too easily) can morph into a bitch session, and a lot of wasted time and energy…

We’ve already had quite a bit of that, with the mandatory training sessions and exercises. I’m making a conscious effort to NOT be negative, but when the task is hard, it is SO tempting to whine.

The old proverb is true: When the winds of change blow, some people build walls, and others windmills.

As painful and difficult and annoying as it will be to adopt the new system, I vow to build windmills.

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