The iPad Opportunity – A Decent EMR Interface

Posted on November 4, 2011 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.

Yesterday, I created a post on EMR & EHR called The Must Have EMR Feature – An iPad Interface. that post has driven quite a bit of discussion on Twitter and Google Plus. One comment from @2charlie hit me the most though:

2charlie – Charlie Gaddy
A decent web interface wouldn’t hurt either. RT @ehrandhit: The Must Have EMR Feature – An iPad Interface

Charlie’s twitter response highlights a number of interesting ideas. The first point that every SaaS EHR company will point out is that he said a web interface. We could go into the semantics of what is “the web”, but I have little doubt that Charlie meant a browser based interface when he said web. I’ll leave the rest of the discussion of “web” EMR interfaces for another post (plus, we’ve had that discussion many times on this site).

Instead, I want to focus on his use of the word “decent.” That adjective is interesting because no one would really argue that there aren’t plenty of web EMR interfaces out there. If you look at the EHR Scope EMR Comparison site, you’ll see a huge number of web based EMR companies listed. However, when you add the word “decent” to web EMR interface, I think we could have some really interesting discussion.

At least a couple times a week I get a doctor sending me an email or posting a comment on my website saying that “all of the EMR interfaces are terrible.” I don’t necessarily agree that “all” EMR interfaces are terrible, but a lot of them do fit the description quite well. I’m sure at this point all the EMR companies are thinking about their competitors and agreeing with me.

The iPad Opportunity for EMR Interfaces
As I thought on Charlie’s comment of a “decent web interface” as compared with an iPad EMR interface, I realized that the iPad provides a unique opportunity for EMR vendors with less than stellar web interfaces. While it would be great for EMR vendors to create stellar web interfaces or improve their current web interfaces, that’s much easier said than done. Many are working on older technologies. Others have so much company culture built into their interface that it’s hard to change. Many have large user bases that will freak out at the idea of a new web interface. Etc etc etc! The point being that the culture and history of many EMR interfaces make it hard to change.

In these cases, I see the iPad as a great opportunity to start fresh with your EMR interface. Many EHR vendors could use the iPad as a way to be able to create a new interface for their EMR with all the knowledge they’ve learned over the years baked in. Doctors expect the iPad interface to be different and unique.

I’ll be interested to see which EMR companies take this opportunity and make something of it. It’s the perfect chance for EMR companies to create a paradigm shift in their EMR software without having to admit publicly the mistakes they made in their first EMR interface. Unless you happen to be from an EHR company who built the perfect EMR interface from the start. Then, this need not apply.