EMR Development, Where are the Doctors?

Posted on August 15, 2011 I Written By

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC. He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC in 2009. He can be contacted at doctorwestindc@gmail.com.

John Lynn, over at EMRandEHR.com recently wondered about Depth in an EMR Conference.  He recently attended the Health Tech Next Generation conference in San Francisco, where few doctors seemed to be present.  This is such a classic blunder in health IT: not checking with the end users to make sure what you are designing is on the right track.  To be honest, it’s what killed our first EMR experience and led us to fire the EMR vendor.  There was no clearly tangible evidence that a medical doctor was involved at all in programming the thing.  We felt like we were beta testing their system for them as they worked out “bugs” based on our suggestions.  Frankly, we should have requested three months worth of consulting fees in the end, but that’s a story for another time.

John also made the comment that he had never seen a true EMR conference focused on doctors, practice managers, and actual users of the EMR.  Hmm… I think Practice Fusion Connect 2010 did this to a large extent.  Lots of pics and videos from the event can be found here.  Better yet, I’ve already scheduled time to go the next one, Practice Fusion Connect 2011, which is being held in SF on 11.11.11.  It’s slated to be about  five times bigger this year according to my inside sources at the company, and they are expecting about 1,000 attendees.  When I was there in 2010, it seemed heavily focused on the end users, who seemed to make up a large portion of the audience.

John mentioned the important and puzzling question of “how do you get enough doctors together at an EMR conference?”  I’ll admit that one’s a tough nut to crack, since you are asking private practice docs to give up income to get to a conference during a weekday, on which most conferences like this are held.  If it’s held on a Saturday or over a weekend, that might help.  If the target audience is employed and salaried, then it’s not as much of a problem getting them there since they aren’t really losing any pay/income.  The problem with that is: employed docs generally don’t make buying and implementing decisions.  Those of us who do, typically are in small practices of our own.  An interesting conundrum to solve, but bring it on.  More conferences like this are definitely needed since American healthcare runs on private practice doctors, their managers, and their staff.

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC.  He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC, as a solo practice in 2009.  He can be reached at doctorwestindc@gmail.com.