Is Your EHR Stupid?

Posted on March 20, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com 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 InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Yes, I know it’s a bit of a salacious title, but I think it’s an important question. Although, the answer to the question is completely obvious. Yes, your EHR is stupid.

At least the current state of EHR software is a bunch of dumb data repositories of healthcare information. That’s not to say that EHR software today doesn’t have value. The current EHR software can have tremendous value as I’ve been highlighting in my EHR benefit series. Although, just because something is useful and beneficial, doesn’t make it smart and also doesn’t mean we’re anywhere near the potential benefits that EHR will provide.

It’s worth considering a quick look back at how we got to where we are in the EHR world. First, EHR’s (really EMR if we’re splitting hairs) were created to be big billing engines. Since that was their goal, they got really good at it. In fact, the ugly spew of information that we know as templated notes came out of this desire to meet billing requirements easily.

In the next stage of EHR’s history, we layered on EHR certification and meaningful use. That’s right, EHR vendors went from coding software to increase a doctor’s ability to bill to now creating software that meets a set of government regulatory requirements.

Considering this history, is it really any wonder why we’re having a discussion of the EHR backlash that we see happening today?

While many might think this is a doom and gloom perspective. I’m actually incredibly optimistic about the future of EHR and the impact for good it can have on healthcare. Why am I optimistic?

My optimism stems from a number of different areas. First, I have tremendous respect for the creativity of people. I’m certain that we as a people will come up with EHR solutions that benefit healthcare greatly. Second, I think the “stupid EHR” that we have today lay the groundwork for all of the future benefits that will come.

This second point is a very important one. Most of the time people look at innovative ideas and think that they just came out of no where. Instead, when you start to study innovation you realize that most of the very best innovations have come from a mixture of small changes that are put together in a way that no one could have conceived before. I think we’ll see this applied to the EHR world.

The best example of this is what the IBM Watson technology is doing in healthcare. It’s great that a technology like Watson can take in so much information. However, Watson wouldn’t be able to learn anything about healthcare if the data wasn’t in digital form. That’s right, the simple process of having medical knowledge available in electronic form is an essential building block for something as powerful as Watson. The same is true for Watson’s analysis of a patient’s chart. How could Watson analyze a patient if all of their patient information was stuck in an offline world? Each move into the electronic world facilitates the next layer of innovation.

Yes, your EHR is stupid, but that’s ok. Just wait until you see the creative ways entrepreneurs and innovators will take your stupid EHR and make it smart.

If you have examples of this, I’d love to see them. If you have ideas of how to make a smart EHR, I’d love to hear them.