Develop Your Own EMR – Are You Crazy?

Posted on May 13, 2006 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

UPDATE: Check out the update to this post where I say you’re still crazy to develop your own EHR.

I had someone email me asking me what I thought about a small group of doctors developing their own EMR. Then, I was helping a doctor implement an EMR in a new office and his friend asked me why I didn’t just create my own EMR and make a ton of cash. All I have to say is….Are you CRAZY????

While developing your own EMR is a very nice thing because you are able to customize the process exactly the way you like I honestly think this is a big mistake. You will honestly be spending just as much money developing your own EMR as you will spend purchasing from an EMR vendor. Doing this for a small group of doctors is even worse. Gaining a consensus of these doctors on what is “best” for an EMR is like asking which type of ice cream is best. There are certainly some that are better than others, but it really just depends on a person’s preference. EMR choice is pretty much the same.

One of the biggest problems of creating your own EMR from scratch is what happens once your EMR is “created”. You have to continue paying development to continually create enhancements. If you stop enhancing your EMR program then you get farther and farther behind and lose some of the advantages of an EMR. If you go with an EMR vendor then you continue to benefit from the enhancements that they continue to create. Often there is a small update fee, but much less than you developing all these features yourself over time. An EMR vendor is able to generate a lot more revenue which can be funneled into enhancing your EMR. Do you really think that one programmer can compete with a whole team of programmers? Besides the time factor it is really hard to find a programmer that can do all of the specialized programming for an EMR. They would have to know how to do an HL7 interface, learn CCR, document management, reporting, just to name a few.

Even more important is it is just not realistic for one programmer to be able to build an EMR that has all the feature set of a good EMR system. Sure, I have the technical skill to program an entire EMR. It would just take time. Not a little bit of time, but hordes of time. Individual components of an EMR system really aren’t that complicated. When you pile them all together it would just require a lot of work to develop an EMR from square one. I really think developing your own EMR is a poor strategic decision.

Another point is that there are some great EMR companies that are reasonably priced and will certainly pay for themselves over time. There are even some different pricing models that don’t require an enormous up front fee which allows a doctor to minimize the risk of EMR implementation.

Here’s a few examples you might look at:
Doctors Partner No up front, just a monthly fee
Medtuity Charged per visit(does not include a PMS)
I know both of these companies personally and they are quality organizations and people with a unique cost structure.

There are so many EMR vendors to choose from. In fact, look at my enormous list of EMR systems.

Every doctor should be able to find an existing EMR system that meets their needs(pricing and features).

One other quick tip is to choose an established, but smaller EMR. These smaller EMR’s are able to listen and implement your specific requests much more quickly than a larger EMR that receives tons of requests.