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Guest Post: One EHR Vendor’s Story and Challenges of Developing an EHR for All

Posted on March 30, 2009 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.

I recently asked a developer of an EHR to do a guest post for me to tell the story of their EHR company. The guest post is a little light on the details of how the EHR came to be, but Ash does offer a good perspective about the challenge an EHR has of developing EHR software that can meet the needs of every specialty. Not to mention an EHR that works for every state.

Thanks Ash for doing a guest post and sharing about the challenge of developing an EHR software.

Advantages and Challenges of a Doctor Created EHR

Our EHR system was created in the offices of doctors who came to us requesting a documents management solution. Basically an Internist and several of his colleagues including a Pulmonary specialist, a pediatrician, and a neurologist all needed some way to scan in their paper charts into a system that could be used to retrieve those same scanned pages at a moment’s notice. We came up with DigiDMS, or Digital documents management solution.

At this point a doctor’s office can scan hundreds of pages, file those images chronologically and categorically, add digital signatures, and apply descriptions based on the type of report all by using DigiDMS. This feature alone is used by 100% of our client base because paper management is a universal need in any doctor’s office in the US.

Over the past several years the system has become incredibly more robust chiefly due to the requests made by our clients. But not all the newly added features are used by all the doctors in the way the documents management feature was as mentioned above. This is the uniqueness of our model of software design. Basically we take the technical customizations requested by our clients and sort them by priority according to the degree to which the intended feature would benefit the most number of clients within the same specialty.

There is however occasions where we make technical changes strictly for a particular specialty that would not be used by any other medical sub-specialty. For example, a dermatologist in our home state of NJ would need to be able to calculate the tax on cosmetic products sold in their office-something which few if any other specialty requires in the state of NJ. The advantage of this model is that all our clients are getting a software system which can be “customized” according to their specialty’s specific needs.

The challenge for us is trying to standardize a system for sale in the market while simultaneously trying to accommodate each client’s individual needs on a timely basis. Or to put it in other words, a dermatologist recently told me that a well known EHR company (which I will not name due to conditions of anonymity) is good at being able to sell a system to thousands of doctors but only to a 65% level of satisfaction whereas a company like DigiDMS would be able to provide a system for a smaller pool of clients with a satisfaction rate closer to 95% because of our customized approach to software consulting. And therein lays the crux of the situation at hand: customization vs. standardization.

Ash Patel, DigiDMS

I’d certainly welcome other guest posts from EHR vendors interested in telling their story or highlighting other challenges in EHR development. Just fill out the Contact EMR and HIPAA form if you’re interested. As long as it’s not a sales pitch I’ll probably post it.

Plain vs. Sexy EHR Features

Posted on March 20, 2009 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.

One of the major challenges in comparing various EHR software has to do with comparing features. For example, think about the feature we call document management. I can pretty much guarantee you that EVERY EHR vendor out there can easily answer that they have a document management system. Honestly, most of them can do so without it even falling under what I’ve called EMR sales miscommunications. However, there’s an important question that those interested in using an EHR should consider.

Did you’re EHR make the feature sexy or is it just getting by?

Continuing with the document management example. Does your EHR software’s document management basically consist of uploading a document into the paper chart and possibly naming the file you uploaded? That’s a perfect example of an EHR that’s just getting by in regards to document management.

So, what would sexy document management look like? Sexy document management could consist of deep integration with your scanner and direct scanning into the paper chart. Documents could have tags available which down the road will help you filter the various documents according to those tags. Does your document management allow for electronic signing/stamping of the document. Of course, this would include full tracking of any additions made to the document. However, it would allow you to write on your documents similar to how you would have done in a paper chart.

Ok, so there’s probably a dozen other things that should be part of a sexy document management feature, but I think I’ve illustrated the point. You can easily see that one document management was just thrown in there on a whim. The other document management you can tell has been planned and is well thought out.

Comparing features to see who’s really thought through an important feature is a good way to help in the EMR selection process. It’s also a good way to think about how your EHR vendor can improve the EHR software you’ve already implemented.