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Be So Sensitive

Mental health and addictions professionals require tools. For a couple decades, Terry McLeod has been a trailblazer providing those tools in the form of Electronic ...Read More

When they say “Don’t be so sensitive”, I have a stock answer: Bull.

When somebody tells you that emotional consideration has no place in business, well, that’s just not realistic. I tend to ask what they’re afraid of, which usually strikes a chord because we’re emotional beings. Many of us tend to avoid an emotional approach to business, some are successful. The fact is that our work can be a third of our life (sleep takes up a quarter or so), which is a big chunk; how can we avoid getting wrapped up in it emotionally?

Why, you may ask, is this tech guy talking about emotion in business? You could carry that one more step and ask why I feel people should go ahead and be sensitive sometimes.

Let’s take a look at the project manager, for example. In the worst case example, a “Project Manager” can be a misnomer, a title that has grown into a college discipline, with all sorts of groovy software tools to track productivity, count beans and generally justify existence. A true Electronic Health Record (EHR) implementation project manager becomes much more than that. One minute she’s a hard-nosed business person keeping a project on track and preventing “scope creep”, and the next she’s counseling a professional who is having emotional trouble making the leap from a paper system to using the software. She’s a superwoman who really needs to be sensitive to every aspect of the implementation, the professionals she works with and even the consumers walking through the door for service.

Jobs depend on cooperation and communication. In the business of law enforcement, a police officer depends on cooperation of citizens and expects to be listened to; the task of the day could save lives and cooperation and communication become a life and death necessity. Information technology doesn’t usually involve life or death situations although it can, if for example the Electronic Health Record (EHR) is expected to send a message to a professional who must complete a suicide risk assessment because a consumer says they are having ideas of how to take their own life. More often, the emotion that we see in implementing the EHR is frustration. That experience revolves around fear. Perhaps a professional has trust issues that the software will alert somebody about the need for a suicide assessment, or is simply afraid they won’t “get it” and be able to use the software successfully. Many times professionals so firmly believe that computers are de-humanizing that they don’t want anything to do with the EHR.

Unless the professional gets mad enough or sensitive enough over a situation like this to say something to the project manager, all that emotion gets bottled up and can affect the professional’s effectiveness in other areas of their work…and we don’t want that happening when they’re trying to help a consumer.

A consumer can recognize that a certain way of talking, specific communication techniques, can elicit a positive response from a professional. Treatment can be contagious. Those of us who have implemented a number of EHRs over the years spend a lot of time around professionals, training them, listening to problems they uncover and counseling them.

Anyone can have difficulty with a software program, especially professionals in mental health and addictions treatment who have been working in the field for a considerable amount of time. The answer is to screw on an attitude that is open to moving forward. Get mad enough to take action and be successful with the thing that gives you nothing but fear and frustration today.

Sometimes it works.

These days most professionals expect an EHR to be part of their work, however some work better than others, and some are just not configured to be convenient and intuitive for the user. That’s where that project manager / counselor comes in.

So, like I said, be sensitive. Let it out. If you’re a professional who’s frustrated with his EHR, go ahead and get emotional about it. It just might get you the attention you need.

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