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February 2017

Editor's Note: The Pains of Change
By Lee DeOrio
For The Record
Vol. 29 No. 2 P. 3

Service organizations are everywhere. There are businesses that will pick up after your dog, deliver meals to your doorstep, or arrange a cuddling session if you're in need of a hug but lack a suitable partner. More commonly, our customer relationships are with old standbys such as phone companies, cable providers, and banks.

Often, we decry their lack of service and exorbitant fees with a ferocity that would make Rhonda Rousey take notice. Still, in the long run, we typically suck it up and carry on with the relationship. We may receive a little treat to placate us but several months later we're back in the same miserable state.

Why do we let ourselves be put through the ringer in such a fashion? Personally, I find the inconvenience of any change in, shall we say, vendor to be so annoying and interruptive that it's not worth the hassle. Switching cable providers? Better make time to return equipment, take an in-home visit from the new man in charge, and update your e-mail address stored in various spots, some known, some forgotten, around the internet.

Are you so dissatisfied with your bank that you're willing to switch allegiance to a crosstown rival? Have fun rearranging your online banking setup that took years to create. Those scheduled automatic debits won't be any picnic either.

While it can be argued that these are not valid reasons for failing to take a stand against inferior service, perhaps these service companies realize how difficult it is for customers to make the leap to a competitor. Health care organizations contemplating changing EHR vendors may fall into the same trap. Instead of exploring new options on the market, workarounds are developed, software features are ignored, and important steps are skipped—all in the name of maintaining the status quo and feeling comfortable.

Admitting a mistake is never easy, but to compound the problem is foolish, not to mention dangerous. The prospect of starting over will create stress throughout an organization, from the HIM department to the C-suite, making staff buy-in a must. Expect many to fight the idea, secure in the idea that they're doing fine as is and uncertain whether the new system will be any better.

The decision to jump ship won't be cause for celebration—serious reflection is more likely to occur. Feeling bamboozled is a possibility. It most likely will be painful, but to continue in an unhealthy relationship would only redirect the pain in the wrong direction—toward patients.