Features of an EMR for Practical Use

Posted on May 28, 2010 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.

For those of you who don’t read many of the comments on here and EMR and HIPAA, you’re really missing out. Some of the very best discussion and information comes out in the comments. At times I like to highlight some of the more interesting and thoughtful comments so that more people get to read them. This post is one of those comments where a doctor discusses the features that he believes should be included in an EMR that’s built for “Practical Use” as opposed to the meaningless “Meaningful Use.” I don’t agree with a number of his thoughts, but it does give you plenty to think about. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

Most of the charts look like:

Patient c/o cough.
HTN -controlled
DM – controlled
CHF – stable
No change in meds.

Those 5 short lines of text are the culmination of a clinical encounter and represent the result of a highly trained professional’s observations, conclusions and treatment plan. With the inclusion of patient name and date of service those 5 lines are the “Complete Medical Record” of that encounter. When Medicare or any other payer shows up to run a chart audit that’s all they want to see. There are certainly other documents like lab results that clinicians use in diagnosis and formulating a treatment plan, but those are simply part of the data “considered” by a clinician and are typically used once. That along with the more signifigant cognative data are processed through the clinician’s brain with the end result being output represented by those 5 lines of text.

When EMR products are designed around that work process EMR ubiquity is possible.

“Meaningful Use” is “meaningless” to clinicians.

“Practical Use” is easy to define, just ask a bunch of doctors who are resistant to the current generation of EMRs. What capabilities should an EMR contain at a minimum that would make it a “I’ve got to have that” clinical tool.

Here’s my list:

1. Must contain a textual clinical note.
2. Must contain a contextual/collaborative problem list.
3. Must contain a contextual/collaborative medication list.
4. Must allow access across enterprise boundaries.
5. Must not interfere with my existing documentation methodology.
6. Training should take no more than a coffee break.
7. Cost must be trivial like my cell phone service
8. Must not interfere with billing and administrative staff’s activities.

I already know how to write a clinical note.
I have finely honed cognative skills, don’t distract me from using them.
I already have a practice management and billing system.
I already get lab results electronically.
I already have e-prescribing.
I am not interested in drawing stupid little pictures on a screen with a mouse.

Finally an EMR must create a secure open channel of communication between clinicians.

I not going to spend $2,000 much less $100,000 to organize and share that information.

Doctors are not Technology Averse, they are Stupidity Averse.