[ Tuesday, March 08, 2005 ]


EMRs: Here's an article out of the Nashville Business Journal on physician expectations when purchasing electronic medical record technology. Different buyers are looking for different things, which goes a long way to explaining why EMRs haven't reached the development stage we might otherwise expect.

EMRs are one of many examples of the "blind men and the elephant" problem in healthcare. "Healthcare" is a big "space" (to use venture capital language), and there are a lot of things that fit into it. As an industry, it takes up a lot of GNP not just because it's an expensive want/need central to our (selfish?) society, but because it has a huge footprint that includes everything from aromatherapists to bond lawyers. When you've got a subject matter that takes up that much space, you're going to have a lot of instances where two people are talking about the same thing but their experience with it is so totally different they might as well be talking about two different things. You remember the fable of the blind men and the elephant: each was touching a different part of the elephant, so their understanding of what an elephant is was totally different. The blind man touching the elephant's side thought an elephant was like a big wall; the blind man touching the elephant's trunk thought an elephant was like a vine; the blind man touching the elephant's tusk thought an elephant was like a spear; etc.

There are many times in healthcare where that issue comes up. Here, some doctors see EMRs as a clinical tool; others see it as a clerical tool; some see ease of use, some see privacy concerns. One useful lesson of this is that in healthcare, horses are zebras (mixing metaphors pretty badly this morning, but I hope you get what I'm after): you should always keep an open mind about the issues you confront in the healthcare space, because what you assume to be the central issue and the primary concern in a particular problem area might be a side issue or distraction for someone approaching the problem area from a different angle.

Jeff [8:44 AM]

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