EMR Core Versus Specialty Functionality

Posted on March 17, 2009 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.

The other day I was thinking about the way EMR software has been designed. A common complaint by specialists is that a certain EMR was designed for General Medicine, but would not work for [insert specialty here]. Then, I asked myself the question “Why hasn’t an EMR vendor built a core with plugins so that other divisions of their company could focus on specialties?”

Yes, if you are a doctor you can probably stop reading right here.

Anyone who’s participated in a website content management system like WordPress (which I use to run this blog) is familiar with the idea of WordPress being the core and then plugins adding extra functionality that might be specific to a user. I wonder why no EMR vendor has decided to develop their software with this same type of flexibility. I believe this process could even work for a private company. It could have one department in charge of the core EMR functionality. Then, other divisions of the company could focus on creating various “plugins” that would expand the core functionality to meet different needs.

This could be the perfect way to be able to adapt the core EMR functions to meet the needs of various specialty clinics out there. This could even be a good way for an EMR company to adapt a product for different state regulations and requirements.

Of course, this model works even better when we’re talking about open source EMR (see also the open source EMR list on the EMR wiki). I’ve seen some different open source EMR, but I don’t personally know of any that are using this model. I’m guessing there has to be and I just don’t know about it. If anyone knows of an open source EMR that is using this model for development, please let me know in the comments. I’d also love to have someone do a guest blog post about this if it is occurring already.

Just some food for thought. Any EMR companies developing this way and I just don’t know about it? I’d love to hear about it as well.