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Learning Health Care System

Posted on March 27, 2015 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.

In a recent post by Andy Oram on EMR and EHR titles “Exploring the Role of Clinical Documentation: a Step Toward EHRs for Learning” he introduced me to the idea of what he called a Learning Health Care System. Here’s his description:

Currently a popular buzzword, a learning health care system collects data from clinicians, patients, and the general population to look for evidence and correlations that can improve the delivery of health care. The learning system can determine the prevalence of health disorders in an area, pick out which people are most at risk, find out how well treatments work, etc. It is often called a “closed loop system” because it can draw on information generated from within the system to change course quickly.

I really love the concept and description of a learning healthcare system. Unfortunately, I see so very little of this in our current EHR technology and that’s a travesty. However, it’s absolutely the way we need to head. Andy add this insight into why we don’t yet have a learning health care system:

“Vendors need to improve the ability of systems to capture and manage structured data.” We need structured data for our learning health care system, and we can’t wait for natural language processing to evolve to the point where it can reliably extract the necessary elements of a document.

While I agree that managed structured data would be helpful in reaching the vision of a learning healthcare system, I don’t think we have to wait for that to happen. We can already use the data that’s available to make our EHRs smarter than they are today. Certainly we can’t do everything that we’d like to do with them, but we can do something. We shouldn’t do nothing just because we can’t do everything.

Plus, I’ve written about this a number of times before, but we need to create a means for the healthcare system to learn and for healthcare systems to be able to easily share that learning. This might be a different definition of leaning than what Andy described. I think he was referencing a learning system that learns about the patient. I’m taking it one step further and we need a healthcare system that learns something about technology or data to be able to easily share that learning with other outside healthcare systems. That would be powerful.

What are your thoughts on what Andy calls a popular buzzword: A Learning Health Care System? Are we heading that direction? What’s holding us back?

Patients and EMRs, EMR Value, and Healthy Food Guide: Around Healthcare Scene

Posted on November 18, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Hospital EMR and EHR

What do Patients Need From EMRs?

Meaningful Use Stage 3 requires that EMRs be accessible by both patients and providers for comments. This post contains several suggestions for what patient data must include. Some points discussed include links to medical information (to help identify unfamiliar terms), the ability to view information in different views, and mobile access to health information.

Adolescent Data Needs Stronger EMR Protections, Group Says

The AAP recently came out with a statement concerning the protection of adolescents in EMR. They believe that adolescents don’t enjoy the same protection as adults do, and this needs to change. To help with this, the AAP has presented a list of principals that should “govern” EMRs, PHRs, and HIEs. Some of the ideas include creating criteria for EMRs that meed standards for adolescent privacy, and flexibility within standards for protection of privacy for diagnoses, lab tests, etc. These new suggestions will place an added burden on EMR vendors.

EMR and EHR

EMR Value Diminished If Patients Can’t Access Care

A recent study was released that analyzed primary care practices in 10 countries around the world. While it indicated that more US physicians are using EMRs than in the past, a large percentage patients in the US are still struggling to pay for health treatments. This is well-below the numbers from other countries surveyed. This may suggest that even if EMR is in use, it doesn’t really matter if patients can’t afford getting help.

New Healthcare Facility Experiences IT Growing Pains

Jennifer Dennard recently has to visit a new facility in the area in order to treat an illness. She was pleasantly surprised with the facility, and recounts her experience here. However, she discusses some of the IT “growing pains” the facility is experiencing, such as still using paper prescriptions.

Smart Phone Health Care

Healthy Food Guide Uses MyPlate.Gov Standards to Track Calories

There are many mobile food diaries available, and a new one just hit the market. Healthy Food Guide puts a twist on the typical calorie counting idea, and helps its users make sure they are getting enough of each food group. There’s a few glitches here and there that need to be worked out, but it’s a neat little alternative to some of the other diaries out there, because of how simple and to the point it is.

The Immortal Life of Healthcare IT, Secure Texting Scam, and iPhone Heart Rate — Around Health Care Scene

Posted on September 9, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

EMR and EHR

The Immortal Life of Healthcare IT

Patient engagement has evolved in many ways in the past century. While patients used to rely on doctors for any information regarding health care, it’s now common for patients to “diagnose” themselves, before even stepping foot into a doctor’s office. “The Immortal Life” by Henrietta Lacks, and the authors thoughts, are compared and contrasted to life nowadays.

Interview with Verizon Wireless’ Arthur Lane

A leader for mobile health solution development for Verizon’s Connected Health, Arthur Lane, was interviewed over at EMR and EHR this past week. He focuses his work on developing solutions that help with Verizon’s wireless, cloud, and security. The interview focuses on Health IT and mHealth, and what is in the works at Verizon. He discussed the benefits of mHealth, and what is to come in the future.

Hospital EMR and EHR
What Won’t Happen in #HIT By September 2013

There’s a lot going on with Health Care IT, and it seems as if we’re always hearing about the latest and greatest innovation. However, despite the leaps and bounds that are being made, we can’t expect everything in the EMR industry to be perfect by next year. Anne Zeigler talks about things that won’t be happening in #HIT over the next year, including lack of major growth in remote monitoring and no high penetration HIE.

Meaningful Healthcare It News With Neil Versel

Sampling of opinions on meaningful use Stage 2

The meaningful use Stage 2 final rules have caused quite a bit of discussion across the web since they were announced. Some good, some bad. Neil Versel compiled some of the opinions and thoughts he has discovered over the past few weeks, and created this post with some of them.

Wired EMR and EHR Doctor

The Secure Texting Scam

Medical practices may be getting offers from companies that offer “secure texting,” that won’t violated HIPAA standards. However, how secure can texting be? Dr. Michael Koriwchak talks about the “secure texting scam,” and talks about the reasons why secure texting can fail. Don’t get caught in this trap, and end up paying a large amount for a product that might not deliver what you think.

Smart Phone Health Care

Detect Heart Rate With iPhone Camera – #HITsm Chat Discovery

Finding out your heart rate is now easier than ever — simply by using the camera on your iPhone. This new way to detect heart rate requires no special equipment, beyond an iPhone 4. The app tracks the information and allows the user to view changes over time, among other features.

Mobile Health App Investments, Controlling Dreams With Remee: This Week in Healthcare Scene

Posted on June 24, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

While it was quiet around Healthcare Scene this week, there were still some great posts on a few of the websites. Be sure to check these articles out:

EMR and EHR

VC Firms Eyeing Mobile Health App Investments

It’s no secret that the Mobile Health App industry has taken off lately. Because of this, VC firms are more interested in investing in these companies. Anne Zeiger predicts there will be a handful of investments in the industry in the coming future. This post talks about different mobile health apps being created, and where the industry seems to be headed.

“Non Structured Data Is More Valuable to Practitioners Than Discrete Research Oriented Data” 

The title of this post was inspired by a comment on John’s recent post on the EHR Bubble. Here, John discusses the advantages of non-structured data for a physician. Does non-structured data help improve the quality of care? Join the debate over at EMR and EHR this week.

Smart Phone Health Care

Control Your Dreams With the Remee Sleep Mask

If you’re like me, I’ve always wished I could dictate what I was going to dream about. The latest product from Bitbanger Labs claims to do just that. The “Remee Lucid Dreaming Mask”, with practice, apparently gives the user the ability to control their dreams. The mask brings you into the “lucid dreaming” stage, which is a more aware state of dreaming. For only $95, this new product is available for pre-order here.

Go From Couch Potato to Runner with Couch-to-5K App

A program developed a few years ago has been the catalyst behind several mobile apps. The premise behind the program is to get couch potatoes (or just about anyone) running either a 5K or for 30 minutes straight in as little as 9 week. There are a variety of apps available to help wannabe-runners get started. This post gives a general overview of the official C25K app.

EHR Technical Breaches, Great Human and Computer Collaborations, and EMR in India

Posted on May 20, 2012 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.

We’re getting close to entering the summer slow period. Although, last year my sites still did very well during the summer. Maybe this summer won’t actually slow down if many of them are rushing to EHR to meet the meaningful use deadline. Also, for those that mostly just read EMR and HIPAA, I’ve started doing a short “Around Healthcare Scene” blog post on EMR and EHR that highlights some of the posts from around the network.

One thing I think won’t slow down is the number of people tweeting about EMR and healthcare IT. In fact, vacations might mean that we see more tweets coming out. On that note, time to look at some of the tweets from around the EMR and Healthcare IT twittersphere.


I don’t think the cloud will increase the number of technical breaches. In fact, the cloud will probably decrease the number of technical breaches as compared with client server EHR. However, the size of the breaches will be much larger. Technology is great at moving a lot of data very quickly. Used properly it can do amazing good, but the same is true if it’s used improperly.


I’d have to think a bit more on this one. Although, I think that EMR deserves to be considered for the list, because an EMR is basically nothing without a doctor. It requires the human to be of use and will be that way for the foreseeable future. I guess my largest concern is that we’re just at the beginning of the potential of EHR to access the real value of human and computer interaction.


This was an interesting tweet. I love stuff with a bit of an international flair. I think the jokes this tweet references was a joke about what I believe is a med school in India requiring yoga and sports. Although, I was also intrigued by his request for India to at least start ePrescribing. Often I think many try to bite off more than we can chew and if we can’t do it all then we do nothing. That’s unfortunate most of the time. Incremental improvement usually ends up with better results than big bang changes.

9 Ways IT is Transforming Healthcare – “Top 10″ Health IT List Series

Posted on December 27, 2011 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.

As is often common at the end of the year, a lot of companies have started putting together their “Top 10″ (or some similar number) lists for 2011. In fact, some of them have posted these lists a little bit earlier than usual. This week as people are often off work or on vacation, I thought it might be fun to take one list each day and comment on the various items people have on their lists.

The first list comes from Booz Allen Hamilton and is Booz Allen’s Top 9 ways IT is Transforming healthcare. Here’s their list of 9 items with my own commentary after each item.

Reduces medical errors. I prefer to say that Health IT has the potential to reduce medical errors. I also think long term that health IT and EMR will reduce medical errors. However, in the interim it will depend on how people actually use these systems. Used improperly, it can actually cause more medical errors. There have been studies out that show both an improvement in medical errors and an increase in medical errors.

My take on this is that EMR and health IT improves certain areas and hurts other areas. However, as we improve these systems and use of these systems, then over all medical errors will go down. However, remember that even once these systems are perfect they’re still going to be run be imperfect humans that are just trying to do their best (at least most of them). Even so, long term health IT and EMR software will be something that will benefit healthcare as far as reducing medical errors.

Improves collaboration throughout the health care system. I’m a little torn as we consider whether health IT improves collaboration. The biggest argument you can make for this is that it’s really hard to be truly interoperable in really meaningful and quick ways without technology. Sure, we’ve been able to fax over medical records which no one would doubt has improved health care. However, those faxes often get their too late since they take time to process. Technology will be the solution to solving this problem.

The real conundrum here is the value that could be achieved by sending specific data. A fax is basically a mass of data which can’t be processed by a computer in any meaningful way. How much nicer would it be to have an allergy passed from one system to another. No request for information was made. No waiting for a response from a medical records department. Just a notification on the new doctor’s screen that the patient is allergic to something or is taking a drug that might have contraindications with the one the new doctor is trying to prescribe. This sort of seamless exchange of data is where we should and could be if it weren’t for data silos and economics.

Ensures better patient-care transition. This year there was a whole conference dedicated to this idea. No doubt there is merit in what’s possible. The problems here are similar to those mentioned above in the care collaboration section. Sadly, the technology is there and ready to be deployed. It’s connecting the bureaucratic and financial dots to make it a reality.

Enables faster, better emergency care. I’m not sure why, but the emergency room gets lots of interesting technology that no one else in healthcare gets. I imagine it’s because emergency rooms can easily argue that they’re a little bit “different” from the rest of the hospital and so they are able to often embark on neat technology projects without the weight of the whole hospital around their neck.

One of the technologies I love in emergency care is connecting the emergency rooms with the ambulances. There are so many cool options out there and with 3G finally coming into its own, connectivity isn’t nearly the problem that it use to be. Plus, there are even consumer apps like MyCrisisRecords that are trying to make an in road in emergency care. I’d like to see broader adoption of these apps in emergency rooms, but you can see the promise.

Empowers patients and their families to participate in care decisions. Many might argue that with Google Health Failing and Microsoft HealthVault not making much noise, that the idea of empowering patients might not be as strong. Turns out that the reality is quite the opposite.

Patients and families are participating more and more in care decisions. There just isn’t one dominant market leader that facilitates this interaction. Patients and families are using an amalgamation of technologies and the all powerful Google to participate in their care. This trend will continue to become more popular. We’ll see if any company can really capture the energy of this movement in a way that they become the dominant market leader or whether it will remain a really fluid environment.

Makes care more convenient for patients. I believe we’re starting to see the inklings of this happening. At the core of this for me is patient online scheduling and patient online visits. Maybe it could more simply be identified as: patient communication with providers.

I don’t think 2011 has been the watershed year for convenient access to doctors by patients. However, we’re starting to see inroads made which will open up the doors for the flood of patients that want to have these types of interactions.

Helps care for the warfighter. This is an area where I also don’t have a lot of experience. Although, I do remember one visit with someone from the Army at a conference. In that short chat we had, he talked about all the issues the Army had been dealing with for decades: patient record standards, patient identifiers, multiple locations (see Iraq and Afghanistan), multiple systems, etc. The problem he identified was that much of it was classified and so it couldn’t be shared. I hope health IT does help our warriors. It should!

Enhances ability to respond to public health emergencies and disasters. I’ve been to quite a few presentations where people have talked about the benefits and challenges associated with electronic medical records and natural disasters. They’ve always been really insightful since they almost always have 5-6 “I hadn’t thought of that” moments that make you realize that we’re not as secure and prepared for disasters as we think we are.

It is worth noting that moving 100,000 patient records electronically to an off site location is much easier in the electronic world than it is in paper. With paper charts we can’t even really discuss the idea of remote access to the record in the case of a natural disaster.

Possibly even more interesting is the idea of EMR and health IT supporting public health emergencies. We’re just beginning to aggregate health data from EMR software that could help us identify and mitigate the impact of a public health emergency. Certainly none of these systems are going to be perfect. Many of these systems are going to miss things we wish they’d seen. However, there’s real potential benefit in them helping is identify public health emergencies before they become catastrophes.

Enables discovery in new medical breakthroughs and provides a platform for innovation. Most of the medical breakthroughs we’ve experienced in the last 20 years would likely have been impossible without technology. Plus, I don’t think we’ve even started to tap the power that could be available from the mounds of healthcare data that we have available to us. This is why I’m so excited about the Health.Data.Gov health data sharing program that Priya wrote about on EMR and EHR. There’s so many more medical discoveries that will be facilitated by healthcare data.

There you have it. What do you think of these 9 items? Are there other things that you see happening that will impact the above items? Are there trends that we should be watching in health IT in 2012?

Be sure to read the rest of my Health IT Top 10 as they’re posted.

EMR and Pharma

Posted on December 9, 2011 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.

In a post on EMR and EHR about Pharma and Health Plans paying for EMR software, I got the following comment from Aaron Holloway:

I am partnered with a Practice Management/EMR/EHR platform and we are in negotiations now with Pharma companies who are interested in subsidizing the platform from many perspectives:
1. Integration option of a sales visit app for rep’s (details, samples, etc.)
2. De-identified data procurement (measure brand impact)
3. Ad placement (lessor priority/ROI)

I’ve previously posted about the riskiness of pharma ads in EHR, but also have commented on how pharma ads in EHR are inevitable. However, I thought Aaron’s comments provided some interesting new ways I hadn’t heard for pharma to interact with a doctor thought an EHR than I had heard before.

I’m sure some people like Bruce Friedman from Lab Soft News will still be a little concerned whenever Pharma puts their fingers into things. Bruce has a right to be concerned. However, I still believe that it’s going to happen. So, I’d rather be part of the discussion than to sit back and say it shouldn’t happen while it happens anyway.

The iPad Opportunity – A Decent EMR Interface

Posted on November 4, 2011 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.

Yesterday, I created a post on EMR & EHR called The Must Have EMR Feature – An iPad Interface. that post has driven quite a bit of discussion on Twitter and Google Plus. One comment from @2charlie hit me the most though:

2charlie – Charlie Gaddy
A decent web interface wouldn’t hurt either. RT @ehrandhit: The Must Have EMR Feature – An iPad Interface dlvr.it/tYkN7

Charlie’s twitter response highlights a number of interesting ideas. The first point that every SaaS EHR company will point out is that he said a web interface. We could go into the semantics of what is “the web”, but I have little doubt that Charlie meant a browser based interface when he said web. I’ll leave the rest of the discussion of “web” EMR interfaces for another post (plus, we’ve had that discussion many times on this site).

Instead, I want to focus on his use of the word “decent.” That adjective is interesting because no one would really argue that there aren’t plenty of web EMR interfaces out there. If you look at the EHR Scope EMR Comparison site, you’ll see a huge number of web based EMR companies listed. However, when you add the word “decent” to web EMR interface, I think we could have some really interesting discussion.

At least a couple times a week I get a doctor sending me an email or posting a comment on my website saying that “all of the EMR interfaces are terrible.” I don’t necessarily agree that “all” EMR interfaces are terrible, but a lot of them do fit the description quite well. I’m sure at this point all the EMR companies are thinking about their competitors and agreeing with me.

The iPad Opportunity for EMR Interfaces
As I thought on Charlie’s comment of a “decent web interface” as compared with an iPad EMR interface, I realized that the iPad provides a unique opportunity for EMR vendors with less than stellar web interfaces. While it would be great for EMR vendors to create stellar web interfaces or improve their current web interfaces, that’s much easier said than done. Many are working on older technologies. Others have so much company culture built into their interface that it’s hard to change. Many have large user bases that will freak out at the idea of a new web interface. Etc etc etc! The point being that the culture and history of many EMR interfaces make it hard to change.

In these cases, I see the iPad as a great opportunity to start fresh with your EMR interface. Many EHR vendors could use the iPad as a way to be able to create a new interface for their EMR with all the knowledge they’ve learned over the years baked in. Doctors expect the iPad interface to be different and unique.

I’ll be interested to see which EMR companies take this opportunity and make something of it. It’s the perfect chance for EMR companies to create a paradigm shift in their EMR software without having to admit publicly the mistakes they made in their first EMR interface. Unless you happen to be from an EHR company who built the perfect EMR interface from the start. Then, this need not apply.

EHR Success in Estonia and Ambulatory vs Hospital Differences – EHR Twitter Roundup

Posted on June 20, 2011 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’m always fascinated by other countries EHR implementations. So many other countries are interesting to consider since they’re missing so many of the barriers that make EHR adoption and even more specifically health information exchange between EHR software so difficult. Nice to learn more about the success that Estonia has had adopting EHR software. I’d like to learn a lot more about what’s being done with international EHR implementations.

I often have an internal battle when writing on this blog when I’m writing something that’s ambulatory EHR specific versus Hospital EMR specific. In fact, I was struck when someone recently told me that this site focuses more on hospital EMR and not ambulatory. I had to laugh since when I write, I’m mostly writing from the hospital EMR perspective.

This stuff aside, there are distinct differences between a hospital EHR software and an ambulatory EHR software. The article linked above highlights some of those differences. Coincidentally, I’m going to be working to write more about specific hospital EHR issues on the aptly named Hospital EMR and EHR blog. If you like Hospital IT, then go and sign up for the Hospital EMR and EHR email list. It will be a nice compliment to this blog and the EMR and EHR blog. I’ve got 3 other writers that will be starting to write on that blog as well. I’m excited to learn more about large hospital EHR vendors like the mythical Epic. Plus, as I learn more about hospital specific EHR issues, I think the content on this site will benefit as well.

EMR Twiter Thoughts from EMR Answers

Posted on May 15, 2011 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 found a couple interesting tweets from EMR answers. Some interesting advice for those interested in EMR and EHR.

Some good advice and scary thought that all the EMR and EHR vendors’ R&D is going to meaningful use.

Definitely better to invest up front. Sadly, our society seems to be all about the immediate result and not the long term investment.