Government Shouldn’t Talk about Ill Defined EHR Term

Posted on May 26, 2009 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.

A little while back, the Health Care blog has a pretty interesting post talking about how to define the term EHR. Normally, this debate would just be an academic debate which in the end nobody would really care about. You may remember my rant about EMR versus EHR which was really just me complaining the Google didn’t recognize both terms and send more traffic to my website (just being honest) along with me feeling like there’s little practical difference in the terms EMR and EHR(despite others disagreement).

Instead of EHR being basically a marketing tool for EMR vendors, the HITECH act’s use of the word “certified EHR” has made the meaning of this term rather important. Well, at least it’s important if you care about the $18 billion that they plan on spending on EHR software.

The above linked article suggested that ONCHIT should adopt the term “EHR technology” to replace the terms EMR and EHR. They suggested that the term would be defined as “An information technology tool, such as a software program or application, that is used to create, consume, manage or transport health data in electronic or digital form.

This discussion reminds me of my previous post Hospital CIO’s take on CCHIT. In it, this hospital CIO suggests that a problem with CCHIT certification is that it assumes that only one program would provide all the needed EHR functionality. However, maybe the best implementation is a group of programs that are more effective than an individual EHR could accomplish.

What is becoming more clear to me is that the government really needs to start focusing on the results it wants to achieve as opposed to trying to prescribe what IT implementation will best achieve those results. Let’s leave the academics of defining EHR to the academics.