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A Call for Intuitive EMRs

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, July 24, 2012

I've previously remarked that software can't do it all—resolve all antiquated workflows or figure out stumbling blocks in people and politics. Unfortunately, that's just what EMR software is about to be asked to do.

Software is a funny thing. Done well, it anticipates the needs of human beings, or other software, and responds in flexible, flowing harmony.

Done poorly, software epitomizes everything wrong with modern society: impersonal, inflexible, regimented, mundane, boring, even maddening.

Where does your electronic medical record software wind up on that spectrum? Chances are, it doesn't look so good in comparison to your searching experience on Google or your shopping experience on Amazon.

"We need the EMR that's going to intuitively know the way our physicians practice and know the difference—and not every time a physician wants a change, we get a call, and we say we'll take that to the team, and the team will analyze it, and then the team will take it to the programming team, and in about a month, we should have your change put in our system," says Pamela G. McNutt, senior vice president and CIO of Methodist Health System in Dallas, Tex.

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1 comments on "A Call for Intuitive EMRs"


Alton Brantley, MD,PhD (7/25/2012 at 12:13 PM)
Pam McNutt and Chuck Christian have hit the nail on the head. In particular, the engagement of the federal government into the development of EMRs, with the bureaucracy of federal design, certification requirements, approval of certification bodies, and the introduction of civil and criminal penalties, has created a situation where the practice of medicine is subordinated to regulatory fossilization. Alternatively, what should have been sought was a standardization of interoperability and an evolvable, versionable content structure that would enable and foster the development of exactly what Pam desires. Standards should be interoperable and overlapping so that not every software system need be upgraded to interoperate effectively - a sliding window of versions and content that enable all parts of a multi system environment to operate as each component is changed out and upgraded. Finally, coding standards that are baroque in nature like the ICD codes need to be phased out and replaced with taxonomies built in machine-parsable grammars.