My Least Favorite EMR Vendor Sales Line

A feature of every EMR vendor is a whole multitude of sales lines. If you’ve ever talked to a EMR sales person, you know what I’m talking about. This isn’t really unique to EMR sales. The same can be said of most software that’s trying to solve complex problems.

Well, there’s one EMR vendor sales line that gets on my nerves more than any other line. Let’s take a demo of an EMR vendor’s templates. Now here’s the line that I absolutely abhor:

“You can make it do whatever you want.”

Hearing this is like hearing fingernails on a chalkboard for me. Certainly, the intent of their comment is that the EMR template creation is really flexible (and it very well might be). However, the superlative “whatever” is just wrong. Every software system has limitations and I can guarantee you that if you really start using an EMR system you’re going to bump into those limitations.

I guess my problem is using superlatives like whatever, any, all, always, etc. is just misleading and leads to what I call EMR sales miscommunication. Anytime you hear one of those things during an EMR demo (or even during an EMR training) you better start asking lots of questions.

Of course, these superlatives do a lot better job selling EMR software. I guess that’s why I’ll never be an EMR salesperson. Maybe it’s also why people seem to like reading my EMR blog posts.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, 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.


  • In the UNIX Haters Handbook (a cult classic among disgruntled geeks), there is a bit about a system called X Windows, which was notoriously hard to program for at the time. The line goes, “X is customizable… and so is a molten blob of pig iron.”

    No offense intended to vendors of customizable EMRs with a big X in their logo.

    Also, there is a bit of dilemma between “can make it do anything you want” and “portable, interoperable data” which I think is going to require some ugly compromises at some point.

  • Maybe the question should be changed from “can you make it do anything you want?” (which is always a yes) to something else like “will you show me how it will do what I want?” Ahh…much different answer you will receive.

    Yes, making software usable and the data within that software portable and interoperable are 2 different beasts.

  • John, this blog is still as relevant today as it was years ago. Doctors are asking wrong questions because they just don’t know better. People switching from an existing EMR system to another perhaps tend to ask better questions because they have been burnt.

    I wrote an article a while ago that is a along the same lines –

    Even if they asked the right question, “show me how will it do what I want”, may yield a better answer, but then it best a bigger question.

    1. Do I have the time to do it myself (or even my staff).
    2. Is it wise for me to do it, or have an expert do the customizing?

Click here to post a comment