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The EMRs You Don’t Hear About

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The best-known EMRs got that way because they target the masses. About a third of the country’s physicians focus on primary care, with the remainder fragmented across dozens of specialties and subspecialties. It’s easy to see, then, why the major EMRs are primary-care centric.

For specialists, the solution is often to use a general EMR and tailor it, with templates and other features, for the field’s common diagnoses and treatments, as well as its workflow. The question is whether the customization is enough. After all, the practice of, say, a nephrologist, who focuses on kidney ailments, doesn’t look much like that of the average family practitioner. And that’s not even considering other health care providers, such as optometrists, who aren’t MDs but who are eligible for meaningful use incentives all the same.

Some providers, then, choose a single-specialty EMR. Sometimes it’s a specific product from a larger health IT company. In other cases, it’s software from a vendor operating in but one niche.

Here are a few specialties with very specific practice patterns and the vendors who serve them with EMRs and practice-management software.

  • Nephrology. Physicians in this specialty deal with conditions and treatments such as kidney stones, hypertension, renal biopsy and transplant. A major part of the workflow is dialysis. One vendor catering to this specialty is Denver-based Falcon, which claims that its electronic notes transfer feature can “bridge the gap between your office EMR and dialysis centers.”
  • Eye care. Care in this field is provided by ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians. Diagnosis and treatment rely on equipment and techniques unlike those found anywhere else in medicine. If you’ve ever had your eyes dilated, you know this is true. Hillsboro, Ore.-based First Insight created MaximEyes with eye care’s peculiar workflows in mind.
  • Gastroenterology. More commonly referred to as Gastro or GI. Florida based gMed (Full Disclosure: gMed advertises on this site) focuses on GI practices with GI specific problem forms, order sets, history forms, and Endoscopy reports to name a few. Plus, they are the only EHR which reports directly to the AGA registry.
  • Podiatry. These specialists of the foot train in their own schools. Bunions, gout and diabetic complications are among the problems they treat with therapies ranging from shoe inserts to surgery. DOX Podiatry, based in Arizona, concentrates on this field, providing clinical, scheduling and billing and collections modules. Its clinical component starts with a graphic of a foot, allowing the podiatrist to specify the problem area and tissue type. DOX claims that the software can eliminate the need to type reports.
  • Addiction. Chemical dependency and behavioral health providers include a variety of specialists, including psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors. Documentation in the field must account for outpatient, inpatient and residential services and for individual and group counseling sessions. Buffalo, N.Y.-based Celerity addresses the heavily regulated industry with its CAM solution, developed by a clinical director in the field.
  • Oral Surgery. This field is a dental specialty focused on problems of the hard and soft tissues of the mouth, jaws, face and neck. As such, an oral-surgery EMR needs heavy-duty support for the anatomy in play. DSN Software, based in Centralia, Wash., sells Oral Surgery-Exec for this group of providers. You might actually have heard about this one, because I interviewed its creator, Dr. Terry Ellis, in July for a post called “Develop Your Own EMR Crazy, But This Guy Did It Anyway.” In fact, there’s nothing crazy about using an EMR custom-designed for the work you do.
September 4, 2013 I Written By

James Ritchie is a freelance writer with a focus on health care. His experience includes eight years as a staff writer with the Cincinnati Business Courier, part of the American City Business Journals network. Twitter @HCwriterJames.

Does Patient Interaction Lock a Doctor In to an EHR?

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about EHR vendor lock in. I think this was prompted by some stories I’ve heard of EHR vendors holding clinics EHR data “hostage” when the clinic chooses to switch EHR software. I heard one case recently that was going to cost the clinic a few hundred thousand dollars to get their EHR data out of their old EHR software. It’s a travesty and an issue that I want to help work to solve this year (more on that in the future).

I think it’s such a failed model for an EHR vendor to try to keep you as their EHR customer by holding your EHR data hostage. There are so many other ways for an EHR vendor to keep you as a customer that it’s such a huge mistake to use EHR data liquidity to keep customers. EHR vendors that choose to do this will likely pay the price long term since doctors love to talk about their EHR with other doctors. If a doctor is locked into an EHR they dislike, then you can be sure that their physician colleagues won’t be selecting that EHR.

There are a whole series of better ways to lock an EHR customer in long term. The best way being providing an amazing EHR product.

I recently considered another way that I think most EHR vendors aren’t using to create a strong relationship with their physician customers. Think about the strength of a company’s relationship with a doctor if a doctor’s patients are all familiar with their connection to the EHR. If a physician-patient interaction occurs regularly through the EHR, then it’s very unlikely that a doctor is going to switch EHR software.

The most obvious patient interaction that occurs is through a patient portal that’s connected to a provider’s EHR. Once a clinic has gotten a large portion of their patients connected to an EHR patient portal, then it makes it really hard for a doctor to consider switching from that EHR. It’s one thing for a doctor to change their workflow because they dislike their EHR. Add in the cost of getting patients to switch from a portal they have been using and I can see many doctors sticking with an EHR because of their patients.

Of course, from a doctor perspective, there’s some value in selecting an EHR that uses a 3rd party patient portal. That way if you choose to switch EHR software, then you can still consider keeping your interaction with patients the same through the same third party patient portal. Although, there’s some advantage to using the patient portal from the EHR vendor as well. It’s not an easy decision.

March 28, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.

Does Spending More on EHR Mean You Get More?

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There is a really ugly myth out there that I’d like to dispel. The myth is: if you spend more money on an EHR, you’re getting more EHR. From years of experience in the EHR world (Will be 8 years in April), this statement is just not true. In fact, in many cases you can actually get more EHR from a more moderately priced EHR than you can from a really expensive EHR.

A few months back I wrote about how a clinic’s Second EHR Purchase was their Most Expensive EHR purchase. I think this is largely the case because of the myth mentioned above. Once a clinic has a failed EHR experience, the budget goes out the window and the clinic is happy to spare no expense to ensure that the next EHR they purchase is better than their first EHR purchase. Luckily, there are other factors involved in a second EHR purchase which make it more likely to succeed, but I don’t think that cost is one of them.

To be honest, I’m not sure how some EHR vendors get away with the EHR pricing that they do. With more than 300 EHR vendors out there, you can find pretty much every pricing plan under the sun. From Free EHR to High Priced EHR and every price in between. The reality I’ve seen is that there are good and bad EHR across the entire spectrum of EHR price ranges. You can find Jabba the Hutt EHR (see more about Jabba the Hutt EHR’s in this post or this one) at every EHR price point.

EHR price is always a part of every EHR selection process, but don’t let price be the main factor in how you select an EHR for your clinic.

February 7, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.

The False Economies of EMR

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In my recent look around the EMR twittersphere on EMR & EHR, I briefly commented on the challenges of choosing the wrong EMR and EMR Switching. Dan Haley from athenaHealth asked for some deeper clarification of my comment, “I’d say the biggest driver of EMR switching is thanks to the EHR incentive money and meaningful use.”

Here was my response:

I think there are a whole list of things in the HITECH act which encourage and promote the use of outdated technologies. I’m sure this is something you agree with and know all about as well.

My core argument has been, sure we’re seeing an increase in EHR adoption. However, what if the EHR incentive money is incentivizing doctors to adopt the wrong EHR. By wrong EHR I mean one that they don’t like, that can’t adapt to changing technology, that can’t support the future Smart EMR requirements that are bound to come, that kill a physician’s workflow, that cause a doctor to not want to be a doctor, etc.

I think we may be headed this direction and the number of doctors switching EHR software is a decent example of why this is the case. I’m sure that some would argue that meaningful use is driving people to switch EHR software and that the switch we’re seeing happening is from EHR software that isn’t highly functional to EHR software that is highly functional.

While this argument is true in some cases, there are just as many cases which illustrate that the EHR switching was because their first MU EHR was such a terrible experience that they had to switch EHR. Plus, we’re just at the start of this. Many are painfully grinding through the day to day with an EHR they hate. Wait until that explodes.

Even worse is those clinics that are switching EHR for the sake of EHR incentive money and go from an EHR they enjoy to one they hate. Add in the many doctors who are stuck using an EHR that was selected by some large company who didn’t worry too much about the physician needs and we’re in for a crazy next couple years.

Hopefully this gives you a better idea where my comment was coming from. Needless to say, I’m not sure that HITECH has been a benefit to doctors. The short term numbers might look good, but it might have just created some painful underlying difficulties going forward.

With all of this said, there are some beautiful EHRs out there that make doctors lives better. I’m pro-EHR when it’s done right. I just don’t see meaningful use and EHR incentive promoting the right EHR adoption methods.

This provided some interesting background for a conversation I had recently with a doctor. He told me, “It seems like there are a number of false economies driving EMR adoption.

I think meaningful use and EHR incentive money driving EHR adoption is a false economy. This doctor described to me how many of his colleagues weren’t using the EHR that they wanted, but instead were using an EHR that they “had” to use. What are some of the forced requirements for EHR that create these false economies besides meaningful use and EHR incentive money?

Another False EMR economy is around HIE connections. Many doctors can’t select the EHR they want to use and fits their workflows best because their local HIE may or may not choose to support a connection with that EHR. So, the doctor opts for an EHR that does connect with the local HIE even though it wasn’t their EHR choice.

Hospital Connections is another false economy. Similar to an HIE, many doctors will opt for what they consider to be a less than desirable EHR because it’s the one that works with their local hospitals.

I’m not trying to pretend that doctors should be the end all be all in EHR selection. A physician can think one EHR is the best and not realize until after using it that another EHR would have been better. Sometimes you think you have a great EHR until you actually use another one and realize what you’re missing. However, the easiest recipe for disaster with EHR is for a doctor to hate using an EHR. As I mention above, it will not end well and will drive the future EMR switching that I’ve predicted.

January 2, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.

Most Expensive Purchase is Second EHR

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At an event this fall I happened upon an executive at one of the major EHR vendors. We had a brief discussion in the lobby, but he said something that I found really interesting and I think describes the strategy of many of the large ambulatory EHR vendors. Here’s what he said:

“The Most Expensive Purchase is Their Second EHR”

A popular EHR consultant was in on the conversation and he started shaking his head in agreement.

I’ve long suggested that practices usually get their second EHR selection and implementation right. It just makes common sense that a practice would use the lessons learned from their first EHR implementation and be able to do a better job selecting and implementing the second EHR implementation. Although, I have heard of cases where it took the third implementation to do it right.

What intrigued me more was that this EHR vendor executive tied the purchase price to a second EHR. He’s right that price becomes a very different discussion when you are talking to someone who is buying their second EHR. In a lot of cases, price becomes a non-issue for those implementing their second EHR. They will spend whatever amount is needed to be able to get an EHR that they like to use. This is reflected in the quote above. I expect that’s why a second EHR is the most expensive purchase.

I wonder how many EHR companies are capitalizing on this fact. I’ve heard from numerous people that there’s a lot of EHR switching that’s happening right now. So, the idea of a second EHR is not outlandish. For many, the second EHR implementation has become a major reality.

December 21, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.

Dating EHR vs Marriage

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As most of you know, I’m very fond of relating EMR to other parts of life (see marriage and divorce, pregnancy, marriage for money, weight loss, and Katherine posted a Lady or the Tiger one that I enjoyed to name a few). I think we can learn a lot from the comparisons. Plus, it makes the lesson memorable when it’s illustrated with a great analogy. Now you’ll know why I loved the following LinkedIn comment from Danny Lieberman. It’s in response to my post titled Hospital EHR Sales Not About Customer Satisfaction.

I remember from my days running a software development house, we had just finished a big installation at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. We had put our hearts into the implementation and post-installation support – the CIO and hospital GM were happy and that is saying a lot because the GM was one of toughest cookies we ever met.

In parallel, we were romancing another client and since were so focused on Hadassah, the attention they got was sub-optimal.

I will never forget the CIO telling me “Danny – if this the kind of attention you give me while we’re dating, what will our relationship look like after we get married?”

This is key. Health IT vendors need to think long term and not just Obama first-term.

Remembering that the pre-sale phase is just a date or 2 or 3. After you make the sale – you have to live together, make ends meet, have a happy, successful and prosperous relationship.

It’s a great concept to think about with an EHR vendor. You may treat me great when we’re “EHR Dating”, but how are you going to treat me once we’re married?

November 8, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.

Making the Case for EMR VARs

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In the comments of a post by Dr. Gregg, someone made a really interesting case for going with an EMR VAR instead of the EMR vendor itself. Of course, this commenter was named “EMRVAR” which probably means they come from a VAR. So, you have to take these comments with a grain of salt, but their comments are worth considering. Here’s the case they made for VARs.

My Advice: Seek out a VAR – Value Added Reseller that cares more about you and your practice then any BIG NAME EMR CORPORATION that only cares about its stock valuation on any given day.

VARS

A VAR is an advocate for your practice – a Var’s many installs weigh more heavily than any one customer that the BIG EMR Corp has.

A VAR deploys technology from several vendors and adapts these products and services to its customer specific needs

A VAR partners with several product manufacturers and service providers. Though partnerships are formed, it is important to realize that a VAR is an independently owned and operated business that is not bound by any one corporation products, services and policies.

A VAR is often located locally to the communities it serves

The VAR model is important in healthcare and the above comments state a pretty good case for the EMR VAR. I find it interesting that in many respects this is the case that small EHR vendors make as well.

What has been your experience with EMR VARs?

May 15, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.

EHSD – EHR Hunt Stress Disorder

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Dr. Gregg wrote an interesting post recently about what he called EHSD (EHR Hunt Stress Disorder). He does such a great job defining the funk, I’ll let his words speak for themselves.

Since I first broke the news about Allscripts’ sunsetting of my current EHR (Peak Practice) about a year and a half ago, I have developed a severe case of a newly defined malady: EHR Hunt Stress Disorder (EHSD). I am worn down, drug out, and generally pooped. I can’t figure anymore re: local host versus cloud versus disruptor / innovator versus corporate clout versus Quippe-able versus app-able versus templates versus NLP versus digital pens versus etc., etc., etc. I just can’t. I’m done.

I have seen a slew of systems — some great, some not so much. I’ve seen apps and clouds and cool tech. I’ve even had some had offers to work with some vendors. But, in trying to decide, I think I have run headlong into The Paradox of Choice wall. Too many options have led me to the paralyzingly dissatisfactional funk of EHSD. Can’t find that “just right” one.

I’ve seen this so many times. Sometimes it goes to outrageous extremes that you almost have to just laugh at the situation. I think the core of the problem is the 600+ EHR companies that are all vying for the physician’s attention. It’s an incredible challenge for physicians to sift through all the EHR noise.

One thing that I don’t think many people want to admit is that every practice could probably select a dozen or more different EHR software and be quite satisfied. Each of those dozen EHR software would have their own intricacies, annoyances and benefits, but they all would deliver some benefit to the practice. On the opposite end, there are at least some clinics who could select any of the 600 EHR vendors and have a terrible experience. Luckily, I believe this is the minority of clinics. Most clinics I know could find benefit from any 1 of a dozen EHR.

The challenge is that the dozen EHR that could provide benefit to a practice is different for every practice. The list of good EHR for a pediatric practice is different than for a OB/GYN or Family Practice Doc. The list of good EHR is different for a solo practice versus a large group practice or multi specialty group. The list of good EHR could be different for someone in California versus Ohio. You get the idea.

My best suggestion I first gave back in 2006 when I started blogging about EMR (The EHR term wasn’t in use back then). It is to quickly narrow your EHR selection to 5 EHR vendors. This will let you focus on 5 EHR and study them in depth. This doesn’t mean that you HAVE to select one of those 5 EHR. You can always add more later if you’re not satisfied with your first 5 EHR, but it gives you something manageable.

Just remember that the goal is to find an EHR that benefits your practice, not finding the perfect EHR. Setting reasonable expectations is a key to avoiding EHSD.

May 10, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.

Predicting a 6 Month Rush to EHR Starting August 2012

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As I look forward to EHR in the year 2012, it was suggested to me at HIMSS that we’re going to see an EHR adoption rush starting in August 2012. If you think about the timeline and all the other EHR happenings, I think this very much will be the case.

I saw a tweet (which I can’t find now) which said something to the effect of meaningful use attestation in January of 2012 was as big as all of 2011. I also have read about the mass of meaningful use attestation that happened at the end of 2011. With only having to attest for 90 days it makes sense why so many people waited until the end of 2011 to attest to meaningful use.

I expect we’re going to see the same rush to meaningful use attesation in 2012 as well. However, you don’t just implement and EHR and then start your meaningful use attestation the week after you implement an EHR. In most cases, you need at least a couple months (more in the hospital case) after implementing an EHR to “get your feet under you” and be ready to concern yourself with the meaningful use requirements.

With this in mind, I expect these next 3 months will be critical for EHR vendors that want to fill their Fall EHR sales pipeline. EHR adoption will slow down a bit during summer when doctors head out on vacations. Then, Fall 2012 will start the rush of EHR adoption in order to meet meaningful use requirements in 2012.

Of course, it’s also likely that many doctors will procrastinate their EHR selection process. They’ll wait until Fall and then rush through EHR selection. I think this would be a real tragedy for EHR since selecting the right EHR is the mot important part of the EHR implementation.

March 15, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.

EHR Vendor MU Upgrades, Care Coordination Teams, EHR Potential, and EHR Pitfalls

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Welcome to the weekend round up of various EMR, EHR and Health IT tweets. One thing that’s been really interesting is seeing the excitement of people leading up to HIMSS. It’s amazing how much better a conference becomes with this lead up. The connections that are made before the conference set it up for a much better experience. I honestly can’t wait to attend HIMSS and be with so many interesting people.

Now, on to some interesting tweets that I found from around the twittersphere:


I found this tweet quite interesting until I read the article that it links to. The title says something about docs waiting for vendor EHR upgrades and then the article mentions almost nothing about EHR upgrades and doctors waiting for it. Is there really that much of delay in getting the latest EHR software? Ok, maybe I can believe it in Hospitals (I’d like to know from that perspective too), but I can’t imagine someone that’s paid for an upgrade is still waiting for that EHR upgrade to meet MU.

I do believe many dragged their feet and are just now planning for an upgrade. A large number of older EHR installs never did regular updates to their EHR software (Big Mistake) and so upgrading so many versions at once is a bit daunting and so it wouldn’t surprise me if many clinics are reticent to go through that process. Although, that doesn’t mean they’re waiting for EHR upgrades. It means they’re waiting to go through their own process.

The article does have an interesting stat that EHR Vendor Selection was the biggest reported barrier with 34% percent claiming that barrier. I guess more clinics need to read this EMR Selection e-Book.

The article also points out an interesting benefit to RECs: survey organizations.


I love the simple formula. I think we often try to make things harder than they need to be.


This is just one example of potential EHR benefits. There are a lot more that I think we’ll start seeing now that we’re getting wider EHR adoption.


Ahh…but it’s so much easier to blame technology since it doesn’t talk back.

February 12, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.