Operating System of Healthcare IT

Posted on March 24, 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.

Likewise, says Allscripts’ Tullman, “today we’re building the operating system for the future of healthcare. This country can’t afford its healthcare system anymore, so something’s got to change. We can no longer buy our way out of the problem.” – Source: Information Week

The above comments sparks all sorts of interesting thoughts and questions for me. The first is “What is the Operating System of healthcare IT?” Obviously, we’re quite sure Tullman hopes that it’s the suite of Allscripts products. Although, how ironic is it that one company can have 5-10 (I lost count) different EMR software. I’ve never known an operating system to have 5-10 completely different software. Seems like something needs to change there. Unless you want to say that various segments of healthcare IT are going to have different operating systems.

I do feel like EHR software is the operating system of healthcare IT. It’s going to be the basis upon which many other software packages are built on.

I imagine the above statement is probably why Tullman made the comment and the comparison. Allscripts has an ambitious project (although I haven’t seen many results yet) to create a kind of app eco system for healthcare IT apps. There are other vendors that do the same. For example, I know that SRSsoft has open API’s that allow developers to extend their apps. I love this movement in the EMR world. My biggest challenge is identifying the application developers that are interested and willing to leverage these APIs. That part of the app ecosystem seems to be missing to me.

My next thought is that similar to how we didn’t realize how beneficial an application like Excel would be until we had the operating system that facilitated its creation. Who is going to create an Excel like app that can run on the EMR operating system and provide benefits to claims processing, clinical decision support, diagnosis help, insurance billing, etc etc etc. Certainly it’s possible that the O/S (EMR) developers will make a lot of these applications, but I won’t be surprised if the EMR is just the platform that allows other smart people to innovate on a particular subject.

In my time writing about EMR, one thing has been very clear. You can’t be all things to all people. An EMR vendor that embraces, supports and creates a strong healthcare IT application developer community would cause me to take notice above the noise.