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5/5/2009
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Monitoring Tools Can Boost E-Health Record Systems Performance

Federal stimulus money is pushing health care providers to implement e-medical record systems, but keeping the technology performing to doctors' satisfaction is the larger concern.

With federal stimulus programs waving a $20 billion carrot in front of health care providers, it's a sure bet that many more hospitals and medical practices will be deploying e-medical record systems over the next several years. But many health-care organizations will likely discover that implementing these systems is one thing; keeping the technology performing to the satisfaction of clinicians is another.

E-medical record systems require doctors and nurses to make huge changes in the workflow habits involved with patient care. That in itself is a tough sell. But if systems performance problems prevent clinicians from accessing crucial patient data or ordering drugs or tests in a timely way, that can become a matter of life or death.

Performance monitoring tools that help IT staff quickly identify and diagnose application, infrastructure, and other systems performance problems before the trouble impacts users can greatly boost clinicians' satisfaction, say health care IT leaders who have deployed e-medical records and other health IT systems.

"It takes a lot to ask nurses and doctors to change their workflow and adopt computerized systems for patient care, they put all their trust that these systems will be reliable and high performing," said Barry Runyon," a health care analyst and VP of research at Garter.

If these systems aren’t performing to the service levels clinicians expect, "they'll revolt," said Runyon, who, prior to joining Gartner, had first-hand experience deploying clinical systems for doctors and nurses several years ago while he was CTO at University Medical Center in Tucson, Ariz.

Typically, e-medical record systems from specialty health care software vendors "don't include sophisticated tools" that monitor all systems, applications, and infrastructure in complex clinical enterprises, Runyon said.

So, IT service management tools, including performance monitoring tools from vendors including CA, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Compuware, can help identify "functional gaps" in large clinical enterprise environments, such as hospitals, medical centers, and integrated health systems.

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