Monday, November 15, 2010

Oh…So, That’s Cool…

After my last set of whines and gripes, I have been gifted with a wonderful slew of wake up slaps to the face. There are – thank you, Jesus – some pretty cool new developments in the world of EHRs. I feel as if I have been given a Moses-ian view of the EHR Promised Land and the view up here is pretty pleasant, much brighter than my first assessment may have perceived.

I’ve gotten demos and descriptions of some EHR 2.0- to 4.0-ness that are flat out encouraging. CEOs and development VPs and idea men and sales folks have all shared some very cool new approaches and system enhancements which have me feeling almost giddy with possibility.

I said I wanted to see apps: apps there are a’poppin’. I mentioned my new iPad love (even though as a PC guy from way back it feels almost elicit): there’s more iPad approaches a’brewin’ than I a’knew. I noted WebOS moves so smartly: some EHRs are now a’hoppin’. And, though my desire for EHR “beauty” may still be more a part of the “Promised” than the current “Land,” the scenery is showing some springtime buds a’bloomin’.

So, now that my bipolar swinging is apparent, I have to admit that my prior gripes may have been somewhat stilted, probably secondary to my exogenously-induced IEDD: Impending-EHR-Death Depression. (By the way, if it isn’t yet, I hereby suggest a new DSM-IV entry of just such a disorder; I am certain we’ll see many more such cases in the coming years. Successful treatment of IEDD – for which Xanax helps, I should add – is primarily dependent upon a fast bolus of Innovation and Value: an “IV bolus.” I am blatantly pilfering this term for the new IEDD rehab center I’m founding.)

As I move higher into my mania, I’m almost moved to a mental meltdown by the mention of a not-so-minor bit of minutia: the dreadful awareness of “you can’t have it all.”

Smart pieces and parts from here or there all swim within my mental imagery of the world of EHR possibilities which are upon us. They dance and dodge about in my mind as the number of demos mounts and the differences among them melt into one gigantic “what could be” mélange. I can see the future, the EHR Promised Land, but as many a pioneer’s dissuaders have portended, “You can’t get there from here.” I can see little snippets of the path to the land of EHR Shangri-la, but I can’t see how to tie them together into one consistent path. The road to HIT nirvana is still hit AND miss.

I didn’t want to have to change systems, but now that I’ve been blessed with a deeper view of what’s been cooking on EHR stoves all about – much of it still percolating under boiling pan lids – I’m starting to get a little bit excited about what functionalities and innovations my next system might provide. In fact, I’d place my order right now, if I could P.F. Chang it – you know: one from column A, two from column B, one from column C…

From the curiously intrigued trenches…

“We want the world and we want it now.” – Joey Ramone

Co-posted on

Friday, November 5, 2010

But What Do I Know?

I've been looking at a whole lot of EHRs and their web sites lately, looking for my "next great system." Maybe they're just starting to blur together in my brain, but it looks as if every single EHR out there will improve my workflow, decrease my errors, increase my productivity, improve my bottom line, get me home earlier, make my life easier, and guarantee my MU bucks. Somehow the redundancy of hype doesn't increase my interest...but what do I know?

Back in 2004, I remember thinking that the majority of EHRs looked a whole lot like Windows 95. Not much has changed. I used to think that most EHR developers would soon learn the value of style, of "eye friendliness" for meeting the wide variety of end user tastes or that at least they'd develop "skinning" for their systems to help solve the problem of ugly EHR user interfaces. I remember thinking how much better they'd all look within the next five years…but what do I know?

I remember when you moved from one medical practice to another, from one type of paper chart to another, and it took all of about thirty seconds to figure out what went where and how to find the info you needed. Seems that the multitude of "modern" electronic charting systems could stand to be reminded of that...but what do I know?

Seems as if every report I receive via fax or hard copy from (fill in the blank) EHR is either way too long and filled with mostly irrelevant "filler" data or way too short and lacking essential, clinically valuable elements. Seems as if very little effort is being spent, at any level, on truly defining what clinicians actually "need" and how to make that information apparent, easily visualized, and perhaps even somewhat standardized when it comes to knowing where to look for any given piece of info...but what do I know?

Doctors used to be paid for their knowledge, for their experience, for their clinical skills, and their wisdom. Nowadays, it seems we're paid mostly for data capture. I think patients still want good “doctoring”...but what do I know?

It may just be me, but there appears to be an increasing similarity between how insurance companies deal with clinicians and how more and more EHR vendors are starting to treat us...but what do I know?

I read that independent providers aren't flocking to EHRs quite as much or as fast as hoped despite the ARRA/HITECH incentives. I'm thinking it might be because of some of the above concerns and just how difficult it is to actually change virtually everything about how you work while you're busy actually trying to do the work...but what do I know?

For myself, I'm also hesitant to make another EHR choice. Having lived through three EHR company acquisition-mergers which eventually led to the Kevorkianization of a really smart, sexy system that was just reaching a respectable maturity, I'm pretty sure more this same digital tragi-drama will happen to many other decent systems over the next few years...but what do I know?

Don't get me wrong; I see systems which do some things very well and I know a whole lot of EHR vendor folks who I think are just plain wonderful. Good people and good intentions are important, but I'm still thinking I want a beautiful system that works as easily as my iPad and as intelligently as WebOS, one that I can start using as simply as I need and which can then be "apped" silly at my discretion, one that is actually as good and as smart as all the hype...but what do I know?

From the trenches…

"Committee - a group of men who keep minutes and waste hours." - Milton Berle

Co-posted on