EMRs Compared to Cars

When I was replying to a comment made on my previous post, I came up with an analogy that was so good that I decided to make it into a post.

Here’s what some people might say about an EMR:

An EMR isn’t nearly as good as a paper chart, because I can’t draw my cute male and female symbols. (*This was an actual quote from someone I worked with)

Hearing something like the above made me think of this analogous statement:

A car isn’t as good as a horse, because a horse can go into tight places.

Of course we could come up with a number of reasons why a paper chart is better than an EMR. However, the same could be said about why having a horse was better than having a car. However, no one is wishing that we were riding horses around instead of cars.

There are pros and cons to everything we do, but I am certain that an EMR has more benefits than a paper chart just like cars have more benefits than horses. I don’t find people complaining about wanting to go back to the horse and buggy days. So, let’s stop wishing we were back in the paper chart days.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, 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, EXPO.health, 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.


  • You’re exactly right! I’m remember a day a-la-1985 when the world insisted the automatic typewriter did a fine job, as compared to the new-fangled word processor, and that there was no need to transition from typewriter to MS Word. Likewise, I imagine a day a-la-“way long ago” when the world insisted the ball point pen had nothing on its quill counterpart.

    The horse and buggy was easier to understand as coompared to the modern automobile, but that doesn’t make the horse and buggy BETTER than the car. Let’s not fool ourselves into believing pen and paper has a leg up on information technology.

    EMR Software Guy,

  • I agree, just because doctors don’t want to take the time to learn a new system doesn’t mean that the new system isn’t as good. Although like you said, there are downsides to everything, there are in-numerable benefits to switching to the EMR system. EMR’s are the next step in the evolution to better and more efficient healthcare.

  • Cars had certain advantages as compared to horses which make horses less desirable for daily use. Similarly an EMR system has an advantage too; it makes it easier for hospitals, insurance companies and governments to manage and audit health care information. That’s all.

    I think I am pretty tech savvy as I build my own desktop systems, repair my laptops and my cell phone is always flashed with a modified ROM. I had to deal with EMRs in three different hospitals during last 5 years. In all three instances I was about 15 -20% less efficient with an EMR. Eventually I learned to live with those systems but it does not mean I liked them.

  • Rhoniel,
    Thanks for the comment. I have to personally disagree that the only advantage EMR systems have is for hospitals, insurance companies and governments. I think there are a number of other advantages. However, I come from mostly ambulatory EMRs and so I appreciate having your perspective of an EMR being used in a hospital. Maybe that’s why we differ in our opinions of the benefits of EMR.

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