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Should EMRs Force Workflow Changes?

Posted on May 30, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

Today, I was lurking in the EMR and HIPAA Facebook chat where some readers and publisher John Lynn were talking of things EMR-related.  During that chat, one exchange really brought home to me how far we have to go in even agreeing on how the ideal EMR should work.

During the discussion, one chatroom member said that the biggest problem with EMRs is still that they force doctors to break their workflow.  Another stalwart chatroom member, the insightful @NateOsit, retorted that EMRs should break workflow patterns, as this would promote healthy change.

Well, there you have a conundrum,  if you look closely enough. While people seldom speak of the issue this directly, we’re still arguing over whether EMRs should fit doctors like a glove or change their habits for the (allegedly) better.

This isn’t just an academic question, or I wouldn’t bore you with it. I think the EMR industry will be far more wobbly if the core assumption about its place in life hasn’t been addressed.

At present, I doubt EMR vendors are framing their UI design discussions in these terms. (From the looks of some EMRs, I wonder if they think about doctors at all!) But ultimately, they’re going to have to decide whether they’re going to lead (create workflow patterns that follow, say, a care pathway) or do their best to provide a flexible, doctor-friendly interface.

I’d argue that EMRs should give doctors as many options as possible when it comes to using their system.  Perhaps the system should shape their workflow, but only if the users vote, themselves, that such restrictions are necessary.

But the truth is that when a hospital spends a gazillion bucks on a system, they’re not doing it to win hearts and minds, no matter how much they may protest otherwise.  And when a practice buys a system, they’re usually doing it to meet the demands of the industry, not give their colleagues their heart’s desire.

So let’s admit it.  Though I don’t argue that they’ll ultimately be put to great uses in some cases, ultimately, EMRs are about dollars and bureaucratic face-saving.  So, today’s workflow will just have to take a back seat.

Kaiser’s Mobile App, EHR Anxiety Coding, EHR Accessibility Challenge and EHR Design

Posted on January 29, 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.

We’re back with our weekend round up of interesting tweets from the Twittersphere. We’ve got some really interesting ones to consider this week. So, much is happening in healthcare IT. Hopefully I can provide a good insight to some of the trends that are most interesting. No doubt this will be a challenge as we head into what is one of the most busy healthcare IT news cycles of the year around HIMSS.

Now, on to the various EHR and Healthcare IT tweets:

Kaiser Permanente just made 9 Million EHR records available on line to the patients. That’s definitely worth talking about. Go read about it in Jennifer’s post.

This tweet just made me laugh (although, if you’re experiencing it, it’s not that funny):

I think they probably need a DSM-IV code.

I know there are a number of companies working on this. The problem isn’t the technology to get the Qcode to access your patient record. It’s aggregating your patient record in some place so that it’s accessible. That’s going to take a long time (if ever) to get it all connected.

I’m fascinated by this idea as well. I hope some companies will take it really seriously. The interesting thing is that often by making software accessible, you also learn a lot about how you can simplify the software.

Dr. Rick does a great job starting the conversation around EHR usability. I can’t imagine the effort he put in just to create the first post. Of course, it is a first offering, but I’m really glad that he’s started a deeper discussion around EHR usability. My only disappointment is that he isn’t posting them on one of my sites instead of HIStalk. Regardless, by the looks of the discussion in that post it’s going to drive some really interesting conversation that will hopefully result in improved EHR design.