The adoption rate of EMR systems in the medical fraternity has been quite low in spite of its benefits being marketed, which include improving the safety and quality of patient care. Lack of readiness among healthcare organizations and resistance among physicians to adapt to change is attributed as some of the major barriers to adapting to EMRs. Even among those organizations that have adopted EMR systems, the failure rate seems to be quite high, almost 80 %.

According to a paper published in the Interactive Journal of Medical Research (Interact J Med Resv.2 (1); Jan-Jun 2013PMC3628120), studies showed that almost 19% of EMRs are uninstalled soon after implementation, and approximately 30% are not used to their full potential by the medical practitioners. In fact, there could be numerous reasons for the failure on an EMR system and this blog aims to bring to light some of the primary reasons why an EMR implementation could fail in a healthcare organization.

Failure to define project scope and clear goals

Many of the EMR solutions are marketed and procured based on vaguely defined goals, which are difficult to measure such as ‘better quality of patient care’ or ‘improved efficiency’. It is important to have clearly defined and measurable goals that are divided into three categories short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals.

It is a good practice to involve the complete team of healthcare personnel including doctors, nurses, healthcare administrators, stakeholders and computer analysts in the planning and goal setting process. It is critical to understand and define the clinical and financial objectives that you would want to achieve with the EMR implementation so that if there are any conflicts over priorities, they can be resolved. Practices often undermine the need to clearly define goals which, in turn, results in problems after the EMR system is implemented and the EMR system cannot be utilized to its fullest potential.

Not researching the vendors thoroughly

After you have set your goals, the next important step is to conduct a thorough research of the vendor and its solution. Selecting the right EMR solution is very crucial to saving time and money for your practice. Check if the vendor can provide 24x 7 customer support. Take references from other practices that are using the vendor’s solution to know if they are satisfied with the vendor. It is better to work with vendors that are well-qualified, understand the specific needs of a particular geography, and have a good reputation to avoid disappointments.

Take out time to understand your EMR contract terms to avoid unpleasant surprises. Failure to do so could result in unintended consequences and unpleasant situations.

Not willing to change

A major reason why EMR implementations fail to take off is due to resistance from physicians and other clerical staff to move from a paper-based system to a digital system. Physicians often complain that the EMR systems take away their time from patient care and interfere with their workflow. The only way to break the resistance is to explain to the physicians and staff the benefits of moving to a digital system. This is possible if these stakeholders are involved in the planning phase of the project and are given an opportunity to openly voice their concerns, fears, and anxiety. It is also helpful to use change management strategies to effectively manage resistance to change and increase the engagement. It is also important to take care that the EMR systems are easy to use, follow a proper workflow, and are mobile friendly.

Lack of skilled resources

It is important to ensure that the staff is comfortable with computers, or else, they will need additional training to enhance their skills.

Inadequate training

The users of the EMR system need to be trained thoroughly so that they can use the features effectively and efficiently. Without proper training, the EMR system cannot be used to its fullest capacity and will lead to resentment among its users. Thorough and comprehensive training will ensure a smooth transition to a paperless patient care system, help avoid errors, reduce dissatisfaction among users, and instill confidence among the users. A comprehensive and ongoing training program must be chalked out in which training is imparted in a phased manner to the entire staff. It is a good idea to impart training to the staff as per their needs or roles so that they are not bombarded with information that is not relevant to them.


In spite of EMR systems claiming to have a number of benefits, the adoption rate of these systems is not very high owing to the unwillingness of clinicians and staff to accept the change. Many healthcare organizations face difficulties while implementing EMR solutions due to lack of a clear leadership and failure to engage all the stakeholders to agree to a common set of goals. Poor project management, lack of skilled and dedicated resources to manage the system, and other technical, organizational, and regulatory challenges impact the success of these systems. For the EMR systems to have a positive impact, the entire staff must be able to use these systems effectively after it has been implemented. Only then it will result in improved quality of patient care, better safety, and increase in profitability for the organization.