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MU Stats, “Cadillac” EMR, EHR Patent, and Big Data

Posted on November 4, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Some really interesting stats for meaningful use. I think I’d seen most of them in one place or another, but it was great to see them all in once place. Nice work Fred.

Cadillac of EHR. Very interesting.

This is really annoying for me. I haven’t written much on these blogs about why I don’t like software patents, but I’ll have to in the future. You can also read this piece by Anne Zieger about mHealth patents. Software patents are such terrible innovation inhibitors which is ironic since it’s the opposite of what they were designed to accomplish.

I can’t wait until this convergence is normal. It will usher in the start of Smart EMR.

EMR Interfaces Gone Wrong, Or The Tale Of The Albanian Patient

Posted on October 16, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

Today, for your consideration, we have the tale of the Albanian patient who wasn’t Albanian.  More broadly, I’m here to discuss the perils of adding an extra interface consideration to the workflow of busy EMR users, and the impact that has on data quality.

Scope, a blog published by the Stanford School of Medicine, shares the case of the Merced County, California physician who, exasperated with the requirement that he identify the ethnicity of each patient, chooses “Albanian” for all of them. Why? Simply because “Albanian” is the first item of the rather long list in the pulldown menu.

As a result of this interface issue, any attempt to mine this veteran doctor’s data for population health analysis is weakened, writes Anna Lembke, MD, asssistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford.  And this physician’s choices should give the “big data” users pause, she suggests:

Misinformation in electronic medical records, whether accidental or otherwise, has far-reaching consequences for patients and health care policy, because electronic medical records are being actively ‘data-mined’ by large health care conglomerates and the government as a basis for improving care. This is an important downside to consider as we move forward.

Dr. Lembke’s observations are important ones. If government entities and health organizations would like to mine the increasingly large pools of data EMRs are collecting, it’s important to look at whether the data collected actually reflects the care being given and the patients being seen.

I’m not suggesting that we audit clinicians’ efforts wholesale — they’d rightfully find it offensively intrusive — but I am suggesting that we audit the interfaces themselves from time to time.  Even a quarterly review of the interfaces and workflow an EMR demands, and results it produces, might help make sure that the data actually reflects reality.

Swimming in Too Much EMR Data

Posted on May 31, 2012 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

I don’t know about you, but the long holiday weekend was far too short for me. The majority of my family’s time was spent kicking off summer at various pools (with the appropriate sunblock, of course). Pools and swimming are somewhat second nature to me. The smell of chlorine takes me back to my high school and early college days of year round swim team, coaching summer swim league and sitting in a lifeguard chair in the brutal heat, whistle dangling around my neck.

As we gear up for my oldest daughter’s first summer swim meet this week (picking the appropriate swim cap, finding those goggles that fit just right and painting our toes the appropriate team color), I’m hoping that she’ll come to love the sights, sounds and smells of the pool as well. She certainly seemed to enjoy herself at one of the Memorial Day weekend pool parties we attended.

One family affair in particular found me wading into a conversation about Turns out a soon-to-be new member of the family works for the company, and I told him that, as part of my day job, I had been dabbling in using it. He quickly asked me about my likes and dislikes, at which point his fiancé chimed in with the lament that yes, Salesforce is an awesome tool, but more often than not, sales team do not have the time (and in some cases the inclination or training) to fully make use of all its bells and whistles.

I pondered her statement a bit further as I watched my daughter practice swimming with her new flippers, and realized that those of us that use SaaS (software as a service) technologies – like electronic medical records – tend to have the same complaint. Bells and whistles are great, but if I never have the time to learn to use them effectively to accomplish goals specific to my tasks, then I’m not going to use them at all. And I’m never going to pay much attention to the constant updates and add-ons these sorts of technologies usually come with.

I wonder if some EMR end-users feel the same way. They love the idea behind the technology, and certainly the government incentives that typically come along with using it, but after implementation find themselves with only enough time to utilize the EMR’s basic functions. I’d assume this might be a bigger problem for private practice physicians than for those working within a hospital.

I’m certainly not the first to ponder the relationship between Salesforce and EMRs. Our fearless leader John Lynn wrote about Practice Fusion building a personal health record on top of Salesforce way back in 2009, seemingly not long after Salesforce invested in the HIT company.

What I’m talking about, however, is the amount of time and energy required to truly take advantage of the vast oceans of meaningful data that can be culled from an EMR. Big data is great. Lord knows we’ve all been convinced of the value of that and the business intelligence tools that help us decipher it. I’d be interested to hear from doctors that have pondered the same thing. Are providers swimming in too much EMR information? Are they faced with more than they could ever possibly utilize? Does it come down to user experience and user-centric design?

Let me know what you think in the comments below. In the meantime, I’ll be helping my daughter perfect her backstroke.