How do you implement and use electronic medical record systems effectively?

While many industries have been computerized for decades, many hospital processes remain paper-based. This is changing rapidly, however, as hospitals around the world are investing in large, integrated, electronic medical record systems. Due to the resources required to implement them, they are sometimes described as a once-in-a-generation investment. 

In an ongoing UQ study, Professor Burton-Jones is following the implementation of electronic medical record systems in Queensland hospitals, with a particular focus on the lead hospital in the statewide rollout (the Princess Alexandra Hospital). The aim has been to gain more authentic and detailed findings than prior research by closely following the implementation and use of the system and learning from the experiences of those implementing, managing, and using it. 

The study has one more year of data collection to go, but early findings have revealed the importance and difficulty of governing a project of this complexity. Challenges have involved achieving an integrated governance across multiple sites and with multiple partners, governing multiple sub-projects in parallel, shifting from governance of a project to governance of business-as-usual, and navigating institutional pressures and opportunities. Over the next year, the aim of the research is to determine in more detail the governance approaches that have worked well and those that have not, and summarise the insights into lessons that hospitals can use to govern such projects more effectively in the future.