Can Electronic Health Records Lead to Employee Turnover?

Can Electronic Health Records Lead to Employee Turnover?

“For some of the physicians it was just one more thing that they just didn’t want to go through, the pain of learning a new electronic medical record,” he said. “And so they said, ‘You know what, I’d rather retire,’ or, ‘I’m going to go find somewhere else.’ Honestly, that did drive some of the turmoil.”
~David Tupponce

Among the topics of interest in the Center for Health and Nursing Research are healthcare administration and Electronic Health Records (EHR). Sometimes the two topics are related, as in the case of Central Maine Healthcare. Though some of the staff have cited problems with leadership, others have blamed the high rates of turnover on EHR. Which is likely to be true? It's probably a little bit of both. This case provides some interesting options for research.

First, let's consider the business side. Central Maine Healthcare employs 4,000 people among several communities in Maine (Tice, 2018). The three hospitals under the corporate leadership of Central Maine Healthcare voted no confidence in the leadership of the CEO, citing the mass exodus of physicians. The turnover rate for physicians stands at around 27%. This is a substantial portion of the physicians employed within the system. Administrators and staff are looking at the problem and trying to find solutions. To this end, the board made moves to improve the amount of influence physicians have on the way the hospitals are run. This is one of the components of a High Reliability Organization (HRO), where the authority to make decisions migrates to those with the most knowledge to act. A research topic on this subject would be to determine the affect authority migration has on turnover, or general employee satisfaction.

Another area for potential study is the effect layoffs have on the remaining staff. Workers not happy with their leadership cited increased workloads to make up for the smaller staff. This is an area that has been studied a lot more often, but it is still useful to explore. The perceptions of the staff often determine the course of the organization. Where this story takes an interesting turn on this basic theme is the implication of Electronic Health Records in the high rate of turnover.

The implementation of EHR was brought up in the context of general change management, and in certain changes in physician contracts. The point was made, however, that some physicians simply chose to retire or find other work in response to the learning curve involved in mastering the EHR requirements (Tice, 2018). As a whole, EHR has been painful to a similar threshold as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Smaller hospitals have been particularly affected by these changes. It is understandable that even larger organizations would experience potential problems in their EHR roll-outs. This brings us to another potential area for study. What effect has the implementation of EHR had on employee satisfaction, turnover rates, or patient safety? The answer to this would be beneficial for improving future implementation, or in preparing for future regulations and mandated quality improvement.

The plight of the staff at Central Maine Healthcare involves a number of avenues for further research. These avenues include organizational behavior, change management, employee satisfaction, authority migration, High Reliability Organizations, and more. Hopefully the administration at this healthcare organization is able to manage this challenging situation. The resolution might be useful for other organizations to observe, whether to follow a similar path, or avoid a treacherous path. This is one of the benefits of incorporating research into practice. The lessons learned from case studies like this can be put to use to avoid similar situations.

The full article for this case may be found here.

References

Tice, L. (2018, August 12). Staffers are fleeing as central Maine hospital system is roiled by turmoil. Press Herald. Retrieved from https://www.pressherald.com/2018/08/12/maine-hospital-systems-woes-promp...

About the Author

Jared D. Padgett

2021

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Journal of Leadership Studies-Symposium Piece-Relational Leadership: Perspectives of Key Constructs on Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Equity in Higher Education

Psychology Today
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