Defining Implementation of an EHR

One of the key facets of any EHR investment by the government will look at ways to award money for usage of an EHR. The hard question they’ll try to answer is how do you define an EHR that’s implemented.

This discussion is not new. Every study you can find on EHR implementation has struggled with the idea of defining when an EHR is actually implemented. I think that most surveys I’ve seen usually allow the user to define whether they’re EHR is fully implemented or partially implemented. The problem with this is that each person is likely to define a fully implemented EHR in different ways.

If a researcher has a problem defining an implemented EHR can you imagine how much fun the government will have defining this same thing. Not to mention when you start to attach money to the definition it gets really hairy.

Let me propose a simple definition of a fully implemented EHR using 2 main factors.

1. Paper Charts are no longer created or passed around the office.
2. Patient data can be transferred amongst EHR using a standard such as CCR.

The first factor is easy to measure. Take a look at the paper charts and see how many were created during the past year. Also, look at how a practice handles a patient who already has a paper chart. As long as a practice is relying on a paper chart, they are not full EHR. I should clarify that paper charts can exist in the practice, but they just should only be used for sending out records for past patients.

The second factor is easy to measure, but I’m just a little afraid that the CCR standard is just not quite fully defined. I hope that having Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault will help to establish this standard in an effective way across the industry. Some sort of medium for sharing important information is needed. Even if it’s simply allergies and medications for now would be fine with me. It can always be expanded later.

Should be simple enough. The problem is that it’s probably too simple for government work.

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.


  • Why don’t use the ISO standard for communicating EHR? (ISO 13606)
    CCR defines itself as an standard made to “organize and make transportable a set of basic information”, and building a system over it only would allow to store that basic information (if you want to follow the standard, that is)
    Also ISO standard is already fully defined.

  • yampeku,
    In this post I’m not necessarily arguing for a specific standard. I mostly just want them to choose one standard that works well.

    I don’t know the ISO standard for EHR, but I’ll look into it. I do think that it’s important that the standard be simple enough that EHR companies can and will adopt the standard.

    Just like doctors offices often need to do a phased in approach to implementing an EMR or EHR, a phased in approach to sharing patient data is also necessary if we want the sharing of patient data to happen.

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