Selfish Doctors Don’t Want to Change for EMR

I agree wholeheartedly that technology shouldn’t make it so that health workers(doctors in particular) have to COMPLETELY change the way they treat patients. However, I think it is completely absurd the way some health providers aren’t willing to change ANY processes when implementing an EMR. Just because you’ve done something one way for a long time doesn’t mean that it can’t(and shouldn’t) be changed.

Many healthcare providers I’ve known have been unwilling to change the way they practice in any way. The computer or technology should completely conform to the way they want to work and practice medicine. This is egotistical and wrong since this assumes that your way is the very best way and that their couldn’t possibly be something more efficient and better quality.

Feel free to rip apart an EMR system that doesn’t allow you to practice proper medicine. Don’t hide your thoughts when an EMR system doesn’t respect a patients privacy. Please let your EMR vendor know when they could do something better. Please don’t stand systems that aren’t fully developed or EMR systems that are overdeveloped(I call them Jabba the Hut EMR’s). Find something that you like and something that works close to the way you practice medicine, but don’t start working with an EMR and not expect to adapt many of your processes.

I know how much everyone enjoyed taking that medical chart and filing it or for that matter finding the chart in the first place. How come we aren’t complaining about not having to do that anymore? While you may consider this quite harsh, I think situations all to similar to this happen in an EMR implementation.

In fact, this just reminded me of my biggest EMR implementation pet peeve of all. Don’t act like you don’t know how to do your job anymore. Just because you have an EMR doesn’t mean that you can’t accomplish the same things. I don’t know how many times I’ve been told that the new EMR system won’t be able to do [fill in the blank]. My response is of course, why not? The reply is of course something akin to it just won’t work. I then kindly ask how they did it before EMR and not to leave out any details. Then, I calmly walk through a few different options of how it can be done in an EMR. They[Doctors] are dead on when they say that many old processes can’t be done in an EMR system. However, I can’t think of hardly any processes that can’t be modified and integrated into an EMR. Just don’t blame the EMR because you chose to stop doing it.

Moral of the Story: EMR means change. Embrace it. Love it. Don’t be too selfish to change.

Thanks to The Health Tech blog who prompted this rant. He has nothing to do with my opinions in this post, but his post prompted what you just read. Thanks!!

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • I don’t know if it’s necessarily selfishness. I think that attitude is assumed to mask what is a pretty well-documented aversion to change and new technology in the medical community. We recently did a focus group with area doctors and were surprised to see how high they ranked “uncomfortable with the technology” on their list of barriers to adopting more HIT solutions. Conversely, there are doctors who get it. I read an article on the Texas Academy of Family Physicians’ website ( that quotes one EMR early adopter as saying, ““Unless an EMR changes your workflow and your daily habits, it is not working. It is not just something you plug in to mimic what you are currently doing.” Unfortunately, you see most of the EMR vendors out there tripping over themselves to tell the doctors that their product doesn’t change workflow – “it fits the way you practice medicine.” To me, it seems like a disservice to their clients.

  • Excellent quote! Excellent Post!

    I do want to clarify one thing. I don’t think ALL doctors are like this. Just many. Some Doctors I’ve seen are amazing at understanding how to integrate EMR into their practice.

  • Well, having been on the implementation side of the industry, one of the first things they tell you to tell the physician is “We’re not changing any of your practices or procedures, just the way you record and call up patient data.” It’s a complete lie, of course, but sometimes the docs are so uncomfortable with technology that they won’t adopt the system unless you reassure them it won’t substantially change their practice. Sort of sugar-coating the truth to get them to do something that, in the long run, is going to benefit both themselves as practitioners, businesspeople, and benefit their patients.

    I agree completely with William Bryson’s comment. Adoption of an EMR should substantially change the way you practice medicine, and for the better, just as the adoption of synthetic, mass-produced antibiotics, mass-immunization of children against epidemic disease, the development of medical imaging technologies, and annual checkups and prevention-based and evidence-based medicine has done.

    Long gone are the days of operating on unanesthetized patients with unsterile instruments. And good riddance. How many countless lives have been saved?

  • Marc,
    I guess that’s where I’m lucky. On this blog I don’t have to sugar coat anything. I’d rather just call it the way it is and let them decide. Possibly also why I’m not a full time consultant.

    I love the comparison to various other medical technology changes. I just wish that more of the EHR software out there was as rigorously tested and provided the same results as the other medical advances you mentioned.

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