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Government Shutdown and Other Governmental Impacts on EMR and Healthcare IT

Posted on October 6, 2011 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 13 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.

Yep, the government shutdown talks were in the air again. We heard all about this back in April, we just heard about it again and now they’ve pushed the discussion out until November. I have a feeling that we’re going to continue to hear about it for a while to come. I’m just a passive political sideline observer, but I’d say the chance of a government shutdown is still very little. For all the drama of the media, I have a feeling that the drama won’t actually lead to a shutdown. A last minute deal will be reached…again and again like it did this time and the last.

However, it’s interesting to consider how a government shutdown could affect healthcare IT. In similar situations I’ve seen budgets have usually seen healthcare as an essential function and so they’ve been fine. Although, that’s really talking about the short term possibility of a government shutdown. Who knows what the long term budgets could hold for the government related entities.

Medicare and Medicaid are constantly in the cross hairs of cuts. Most doctors I know talk about how those two government programs pay them the least amount of money. Plus, they talk how many of the cuts to Medicare and Medicaid basically get passed on to them as doctors. I wonder what the super committee that’s required to cut $1.5 trillion of the federal deficit over the next decade will do with Medicare and Medicaid.

We’ve discussed many times the potential impact of the workings in Washington on meaningful use and the EHR incentive money (most think it’s safe).

For those that think what happens in Washington DC won’t really have much impact on healthcare IT, you might want to consider the email I got today announcing the keynote speakers for HIMSS 12 in Las Vegas. Donna Brazile (Democrat) and Dana Perino (Republican) will be on stage for what will no doubt be a spirited debate about the 2012 presidential elections, the political landscape and healthcare reform.

It’s going to be an interesting next couple years to see how changes in government affect healthcare IT and EMR.

“Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” with Jonathan Bush from AthenaHealth

Posted on April 26, 2011 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 13 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.

When I got the request at HIMSS 11 to be able to sit down and talk with Jonathan Bush, CEO of AthenaHealth, I knew that I had to take it. Him and I had a very interesting conversation and he’s a fascinating individual since you never know what he might say next.

On that note, I decided that I better get Jonathan Bush on video at HIMSS. In fact, I think it might have been the only video I did at HIMSS. Although, once I saw how easy it was to upload this video from my phone, I might have to do more EMR related videos on the future. Although, I’ll probably need to hold it the other way.

Now to the video. The basic idea of “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” comes from the Sunday show that Chris Matthew’s does. In the segment, the people try and tell you something you probably don’t know. I decided to do the same with Jonathan Bush using the various buzzwords at HIMSS: meaningful use, ACOs, incentive money, and healthcare reform.


Video of Jonathan Bush at HIMSS 11
Sorry the video quality and ambient noise isn’t the best. It was on a cell phone in a crowded exhibit hall.

Side Note: If you like videos, let me know. I’m thinking about doing more of them. Possibly some Q and A style videos. If you are interested, drop a question in the comments and I can use them for a future video.

Shareable Ink

Posted on April 13, 2011 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 13 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.

Ever since HIMSS (still seems like yesterday, but was really a month and a half ago), I’ve been wanting to do a writeup about the company Shareable Ink. A number of people asked me at the show what the most innovative thing I’d seen at HIMSS was and my most common answer was Shareable Ink.

The interesting thing about Shareable Ink is that they provide such an interesting middle ground between a technical solution and continuation of paper. I remember about 5 years ago when I heard someone describe the perfect clinical documentation system. It was completely flexible. Required little to no training. Supported every possible documentation style. etc etc etc. Then, they acknowledged that what was being described was the paper chart. It was then that I recognized that while EMR can provide some benefits that paper charts can’t provide, paper charts also had some advantages that would be difficult to provide using an EMR. (See also this post about EMR’s being designed as more than a paper chart).

I think this background is why I found the Shareable Ink approach to documentation so fascinating. I really see it as an interesting way to try and capture the benefits of granular data elements and electronic capture of the data while still enjoying the benefits of paper.

My simplified explanation of the Shareable Ink technology is as follows. You print out a form that you want to use for the patient visit. Each page that’s printed out has a unique background (although it just looks like a colored page to the naked eye). When you use the Shareable Ink pen to write on the printed out page, the pen uses a camera to record what you wrote on that page and where you wrote it. Then, once you sync the pen it recreates the document you wrote on in the system.

It also has some really interesting advanced functionality as far as being able to do check boxes on the printed out form and even will convert your handwriting into text on the electronic document if you wish. I’m certainly not doing all of the features justice in this description, but I think you get the general idea. It’s a pretty cool demo if you get a chance to see it. I wish they had some videos on their website of it in action so I could show you. (UPDATE: Stephen from Shareable Ink sent my this link to a YouTube video of it in action. I’d like to see a few more specific examples of it in action like I saw at HIMSS, but it does do a pretty good job of showing some of what I described above.)

I think they’re also taking a smart approach to the market. Their strategy was to focus on areas of healthcare that were slow to go electronic: Anestheiologists, Emergency Room, Hospitalists and ambulatory Physicians. A smart plan since this hybrid paper/electronic system might get those that love their paper off the fence and into the digital world.

I do have some concern about how well this would do over the arc of the day. How often would there be issues with a pen that frustrates the providers? How much work is it to print off the sheets for each patient? How well could this integrate with an EMR (although, I’d love to see it used with a number of the “Hybrid” EHR vendors out there)? Not to mention, how will the syncing of the pen work? Will it sync flawlessly every time or will you have a bunch of doctors wondering where the documents are/were since the pen didn’t synch for some reason?

I’ll be keeping an eye on Shareable Ink and how well they do. There’s certainly an existing market of users that love their paper and so I’ll be interested to see how these doctors like Shareable Ink’s technology.

An interesting side note is that I find it interesting that Shareable Ink left the Boston area and moved their headquarters to Nashville, TN. Very interesting move I think.

Mobile vs Computer and the Patient Interaction

Posted on March 25, 2011 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 13 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.

“It’s Friday, Friday! Gotta get down on Friday. Fun, fun, fun, fun. Looking forward to the weekend.” – Friday Music Video by Rebecca Black Dang those viral videos, but I have to admit that I’m grateful that today is Friday and I have a weekend to catch up on things. I’m sure that many of you can relate to this feeling.

As we head to the weekend, I’ll leave you with a little something to think about and discuss in the comments. Someone at HIMSS pointed this out to me and I thought it was worth sharing. Think about the patient interaction in the exam room. For some reason, doctors don’t and haven’t had any problem pulling out their mobile phone (or previously their PDA) in order to pull up Epocrates (or some other similar app) while in the room with the patient. It was perfectly natural for them to pull it up to look up a certain drug or other information.

Why are doctors comfortable with a smart phone between them and a patient, but a computer is not? Is there a relationship between this and why the iPad is so popular with doctors?

Free HD TV Giveaway Winner at HIMSS Sponsored by Practice Fusion

Posted on March 10, 2011 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 13 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.

Many of you that I saw at HIMSS were aware that I participated in a Free HD TV Giveaway contest with fellow blogger: Dr. Joseph Kim. The giveaway was sponsored by Free EHR vendor Practice Fusion.

I’m really happy to say that @WesBates picture with me won him a 42″ HD TV and thanks in large part to those who attended the New Media Meetup I was able to beat out Dr. Kim as well. I just got the TV yesterday and it’s awesome. Thanks Practice Fusion!

It was pretty interesting wearing a Practice Fusion shirt around the HIMSS exhibit hall. Many of the people that I talked to asked about the shirt. However, I was a bit surprised that I didn’t get more people riping the Free EHR business model. Instead, it seemed like most people were familiar with it.

The 3 questions I did get asked the most about Practice Fusion was about their long term viability, how they make money offering a Free EHR, and whether a Free EHR is as good as the other EHR that you pay a lot of money to get. I asked Emily from Practice Fusion these questions and here were her responses:

1. Viability – We had 500% user growth in 2010 and doubled our team. The company has been very successful in attracting advertisers, partners (Dell, DeVry, Microsoft) and investors. We have 70,000 users serving 8 million patients today. And we bring on 300 more each day (compared to AthenaHealth brining on 600 docs in Q4). There’s a lot of strength in our numbers. Happy to answer any specific questions here.

2. How does Practice Fusion make money – Our favorite question! Practice Fusion is ad-supported, just like the radio, Gmail and EMR & HIPAA. Our discrete advertising allows the EHR to be available entirely free for any doctor in the US.

3. Quality – We were so honored when Black Book Rankings announced we were voted #1 EHR for 2011 primary care in January. Practice Fusion was up against EHRs that cost tens of thousands and still came away with the most #1 awards for categories including reliability, support, best-of-breed technology and delivery excellence. Forget “you get what you pay for” – that report proved that a free EHR could definitely be the best EHR.

To expand on all three of these: one thing that’s core to Practice Fusion is our alignment with our users. Since we’re an ad-supported product, we only succeed if doctors actually use the product. Our focus is on support, training and continuous product enhancement because of this. You saw it yourself when we completely re-did the getting started process inside the EHR over the end of the year. Keeping our users happy is fundamental to our growth. It seems simple, but surprising rare in the health IT sector.

It was fun to take pictures with so many cool people. Unfortunately, I did a poor job of keeping track of all the pictures. However, here’s a few of them that I did get to give you a flavor for the cool people I met:

EMRandHIPAA.com’s HIMSS11 coverage is sponsored by Practice Fusion, provider of the free, web-based Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system used by over 70,000 healthcare providers in the US.

Meaningful Use Monday: Meaningful Use? – Not Yet

Posted on March 7, 2011 I Written By

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money.

At the recent HIMSS annual conference, many statistics were released touting the early success of the EHR incentives/meaningful use program:

  • 21,000 providers have registered, with many more having indicated their intention to do so.
  • 62 Regional Extension Centers have enrolled 47,000 primary care physicians.
  • 6 certification bodies (ATCBs) have certified 415 EHRs and modules.
  • $20 million in incentives has already been paid to 25 providers (including hospitals) in 4 states.

Does this mean that anyone has successfully demonstrated meaningful use? Not yet. The incentives were awarded by the first Medicaid programs for the “adoption, implementation, or upgrade” (A/I/U) of certified EHR technology—a Medicaid-only provision for first-year incentives. The first demonstrations of meaningful use will not be attested to until April, when the early Medicare participants will complete their 90-day reporting period.

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EMR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money.

My EMR Market Share Projection – 50% in the Next 5 Years

Posted on March 1, 2011 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 13 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.

A lot of people like to throw around a lot of market share numbers for EMR and EHR adoption. One thing that’s clear in pretty much every number I’ve seen (and I’ve seen a lot) is that we still have a long way to go. Across all of these numbers there’s also a few other generally accepted principles:
-Small practices have a much lower EMR adoption percentage as compared with large practices
-Specialists have a higher EMR adoption percentage than general medicine doctors
-No one knows how to truly define what EMR adoption is in a survey

Taking in all my experience reading study after study and also my experience talking with hundreds and thousands of doctors, EMR vendors, consultants, etc about EMR adoption I’d put current EMR adoption somewhere around 25%. This isn’t any sort of scientific survey or approach. It’s just my feeling based on all my experience. Some might put it a little higher and some might put it a little lower, but I’d say most of that change is likely due to how they define EMR adoption.

A question I asked a number of people at HIMSS was where EMR adoption will be after the EMR incentive money has run its course. It’s a fun discussion to have amidst all your EMR and HIT nerd friends. However, it’s also an important business of healthcare question with lots of impacts based upon how EMR adoption goes.

My personal projection is that ONC should be really pleased if they achieve 50% EMR adoption by the end of the HITECH act (approximately 5 years). A number of really smart and involved people at HIMSS agreed with me on those numbers.

Yes, so I’m predicting that we’ll see about 25% of doctors adopt an EMR over the next 5 years. After those 5 years, I predict that the EHR adoption will really accelerate and we’ll see the other 30-40% EHR adoption in 2 years. Unfortunately, we’ll probably still have 10-20% on paper for various reasons.

I must admit that 50% adoption in 5 years still feels like we’re going to be missing out on some of the benefits of widespread EMR adoption. However, 90% adoption in 7 years doesn’t sound so bad. Maybe the older I get the shorter 7 years starts to sound.

While I like the sound of 90% EMR adoption, we can still do a lot of really good things in healthcare with only 50% adoption. Hopefully, the work I do on this and my other EMR websites helps to move the needle of EMR adoption a little bit. Not to mention help improve the rate of successful EMR adopters. That’s the goal.

What’s your take on where EMR adoption will go over the next 5 years?

New Media Meetup at #HIMSS11 Pictures and Video

Posted on February 28, 2011 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 13 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 couldn’t agree more with @MattA_PCMH. I’m obviously biased since I organized the event, but the good part is that it far exceeded my expectations. You never know what’s going to happen when the people attending the event essentially came from two blog posts and a bunch of tweets and retweets. As I mentioned at the meetup, It’s also an amazing illustration of the power of social media.

I was highly impressed with the quality of the people that attended. Besides the fact that it’s fun to meet people IRL (in real life) that you feel like you know because you follow them on Twitter and/or their blog, it’s also neat to meet people from across the spectrum of healthcare IT that’s represented at HIMSS. Despite the various differences and backgrounds, we all had one collective bond: interest in New Media (Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc). I think that’s what makes this meetup unique, interesting and a lot of fun!

A really big thanks to our main sponsor MEDecision for the food, drinks, venue and Flip video camera giveaways. Thanks also to Ozmosis for sponsoring the iPad giveaway. I think MEDecision must have seen my flip video camera envy, because at the end of the event they were incredibly kind and hooked me up with my own flip video camera. Very classy organization and I can’t wait to see what we can put together for the 3rd Annual New Media Meetup at HIMSS12 in Las Vegas. I told MEDecision we were going to have to go Big since I call Las Vegas home. I’m sure they’ll deliver like they have the past two meetups.

Someone on Twitter also brought up the idea of a Young Professionals meetup at HIMSS. I think I might have to explore this idea a bit more for next year since it would be an interesting compliment to the New Media Meetup. I’ll just have to set the age high enough that I’m considered a young professional.

Now for a few pictures from the New Media Meetup at HIMSS 2011 (click on the pictures twice to see the full picture):

And this video at the tail end of the meetup after most of the people had cleared out, but some familiar faces were still hanging around:

About Sponsors
MEDecision offers collaborative healthcare management solutions that provide a simple and smart way for payers and providers to harness the power of knowledge to enable the best clinical decisions and improve health outcomes. Designed around a patient-aware health management philosophy, MEDecision’s solutions include Alineo, Nexalign, and InFrame.

Ozmosis provides a social powered knowledge management solution to healthcare enterprises. It’s flagship platform, OzmosisESP, enables clinicians, administrators, staff and researchers at hospitals and health systems to collaboratively develop, manage, and share knowledge within a fully integrated and indexed repository of clinical content and user expertise.

HIMSS11 EMR Company and EMR Market Wrap Up

Posted on February 25, 2011 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 13 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.

It’s going to take a couple weeks to really process all that I saw and heard at HIMSS 2011. In fact, there’s no doubt that much of the content I publish over the next month or two will be things I learned from the people I learned from at HIMSS or influenced by what I saw and heard. However, after a good night’s sleep in my own bed I’m really happy with my experience at HIMSS. The energy and passion for healthcare IT that was found at HIMSS was really powerful and wonderful to be apart of.

I think those people out there that are asking if we’re in a healthcare IT bubble right now are on the mark. There’s very little doubt in my mind that we’re in a healthcare IT bubble. It’s a feature of $36+ billion in EHR incentive money being given out by the government. I can’t remember the size of the EMR market numbers off the top of my head, but $36 billion in money coming into what is a relatively small market is going to change things dramatically. So, it makes sense that this type of infusion of money would create a bubble of sorts.

One person in their comments that we’re in a healthcare IT bubble asked if the bubble would pop before HIMSS 12 in Las Vegas. I believe we have at least one or two more years before the healthcare IT bubble pops. In fact, if you thought that HIMSS 11 in Orlando was big, I predict that HIMSS 2012 in Las Vegas will be even bigger. The EHR incentive money will have started flowing and the trench battles will be in full swing as the 300+ EMR vendors battle each other for customers.

EMR software was obviously my focus at the conference and despite my comments about the lack of innovation by EMR vendors and the future of EMR, I think there are a ton of really interesting EMR approaches that in aggregate are going to impact the EMR world in really dramatic ways. Here’s some examples:

  • Azzly described a meeting of EHR vendors they attended with ONC. The question was asked which EHR vendors in the room started development after the HITECH act was announced. Azzly was the only one to raise their hand. I’m sure there’s other EHR vendors in that same boat, but it will be interesting to see an Azzly EHR that was built post incentive go up against the legacy EHR software.
  • ClearPractice was the first native iPad EMR (called Nimble) that I’d seen and there’s no doubt they’ve made a big play in that space. Will that combined with the backing of John Doerr and their internet driven sales change EMR as we know it?
  • Will larger companies like Greenway and Sage continue to gain market share as they go after the EMR market while maintaining their customer experience? Or will they head the way of the Misys of the world and be bought up by other EMR vendors?
  • What about NaviNet‘s entrance into the EMR world? Can they leverage their existing connections with so many providers to be a major player in not just interoperability but in EMR as well?
  • Even the big behemoth of a company, GE surprised me when I visited with them. There was a polish and a professionalism that I loved about my visit with GE and GE’s Centricity Advance people. I think there’s a fair comparison with Microsoft. Something about the nature of the US loves the underdog and hates the big name player. Yet, the big company just keeps executing their vision and many doctors are going to happily buy and use their products.
  • What about Ingenix‘s multiple EMR offering strategy? Will it just be confusing to clinicians or will they effectively differentiate their various offerings while providing a backbone for interoperability as well? Is the future large EMR vendor one that aggregates a bunch of niche specific EMR companies?
  • What impact will the transcription based EMR vendors have on the market? I wrote about the change from transcription company to EMR vendor earlier this week. Watch for the names MD-IT, FutureNet, Intivia, and MxSecure.
  • Many people probably don’t recognize the name MedPlus. However, everyone knows the company behind the MedPlus Care360 EMR: Quest Diagnostics. There’s something powerful about being able to turn on an EMR in a medical practice with basically the flip of an electronic switch. That’s what MedPlus can do since Care360 is already being used in so many clinics that use Quest for their lab work. Add in their existing lab sales staff that already have relationships with large numbers of clinics and they’re going to be a very interesting player in the EMR space.
  • Free EMR is a really compelling marketing tool. There’s a reason that Practice Fusion and Mitochon Systems free EMR offerings get so much press and so many doctors evaluating their EMR offerings. While many might disagree with their model or even believe that it will fail, these companies have and will have an interesting impact on the EMR landscape.
  • MicroMD offers an interesting approach. First, because of their existing LONG term practice management clients. Second, because of the interesting integration with the supply side of their company. Not to mention, the executives that I met with were some of the most realistic people and well thought out people I met at HIMSS.
  • Props to EMR company MIE that could use a fake EMR company (Extormity) to launch themselves into the EMR discussion while also helping to open up the discussion as well.  If I were a doctor, I’d want to demo their EMR just so I could see if I could find any Extormity features in their EMR.  Although, maybe that’s just the blogger in me.

I could keep going on, but that gives you a bit of flavor of some interesting EMR vendors and their market approaches. Plus, this is just 16 of the 300+ EMR companies that are working in this space. Each one with their own interesting story.

The most exciting thing for an EMR nerd like myself is that we’re really only at the beginning. Wait until we get beyond 15-25% adoption and reach 50% adoption. Then, the fun really begins.

Full Disclosure: Practice Fusion, MD-IT, MxSecure, and Mitochon Systems are all advertisers on this site. EMRandHIPAA.com’s HIMSS11 coverage was also sponsored by Practice Fusion, provider of the free, web-based Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system used by over 70,000 healthcare providers in the US.

EHR Innovations Have Gone Missing at HIMSS11

Posted on February 23, 2011 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 13 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 most disappointing parts of HIMSS for me is that the really creative and disruptive innovations are missing from HIMSS. There are a few items I saw like the Shareable Ink technology, some of the Nuance NLP/voice recognition work, and a pretty cool biometric kiosk by Fujitsu (which I’ll blog about later). Sadly I wasn’t seeing the really creative innovation coming from the EMR companies (and I talked to a lot of them) at HIMSS. I think there’s two possible things at play in this regard.

First, meaningful use is probably largely to blame for much of the lack of innovation that I saw. As someone told me, the regulation of EHR software has damaged and deterred the innovation. I guess you could say I’ve seen some interesting and innovative ways to approach meaningful use, but being innovative in meeting a government regulation is not the innovation I want to see. I think it’s generally clear that EMR vendors have spent the last development cycle focused on EHR certification and meaningful use.

I asked one large EMR vendor about this idea and what innovations their EHR had available. I don’t think he was very comfortable with the assertion. In response, he described how at his EMR company, they had a team that was focused on EHR certification and the meaningful use requirements but that they also had a whole other group that was focused on customer’s needs and meeting those customer needs.

It’s incredibly interesting that so many EHR vendors responded to my innovation (or what differentiated them from other vendors) by playing the EMR usability or “Doctors like using our EMR” better card. That’s related to the above, we have a group that focuses on our customer’s needs.

Certainly focusing on customer requests and needs is vital. However, it seems fitting to mention the oft quoted, “If I asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse. – Henry Ford” Seems like HIMSS was just displaying the faster “horses” [EMR].

A second possibility is that maybe EMR software has become a commodity. Maybe the reason we don’t see that much innovation is because EMR software has now basically become a commodity. I certainly heard many EMR vendors suggest that EMR is basically a commodity service now and that many other factors will determine the success of the EMR company instead of the EMR software itself. I argue that once you reach a certain set of features, functions and successful installs that the software itself does become secondary to the success of most EMR companies. Does that mean EMR is a commodity?

The other angle that a few new EMR vendors are taking is that EMR is not a commodity. It’s just that all the current EMR software is junk. Most then like to compare EMR software to tablets. The Apple iPad came along and finally presented what amounts to an incredibly well thought out and designed tablet and is destroying the market. These new EMR vendors see their product as the innovative “iPad” of EMR software.

Only problem is that I have yet to see any EMR company have an iPad-onian moment.

I could easily argue that the iPad was the most marketed IT device on the HIMSS exhibit floor. Yet, an Apple booth was absolutely no where to be seen.

I wonder what kind of EHR could be so innovative and disruptive that it would be the talk of HIMSS even if they didn’t exhibit?

EMRandHIPAA.com’s HIMSS11 coverage is sponsored by Practice Fusion, provider of the free, web-based Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system used by over 70,000 healthcare providers in the US.