EMR Integration with Cisco IP Phones

One of the lunch demos I saw at the EHR Stimulus tour was a demo of the integration of a Cisco IP phone with an EMR. I’ll admit that they are VERY brave souls to try and do a demo like this since it’s just prone to problems. Demos are always that way. Plus, I think you can get the picture of what’s happening without seeing it. At least I could have and everyone else that couldn’t probably just saw all the configuration and thought it was too complex to even consider.

That part aside, there were a couple of things that were intriguing about the demo. First, as they said, it’s interesting to see how hardware can really affect and interact with your EMR. That’s an interesting concept that I think is worth exploring a lot more. Second, if setup correctly there are a couple features that are interesting and useful. However, I’m not sure it’s really worth the cost or hassle to get these features. They are kind of nice to have, but aren’t deal breakers or makers.

The features that I did find interesting was that it would bring up the patient name/information on the phone when they are calling. I’d be interested to see how much information can really fit on the phone. However, even if it’s just a patient ID which you can use to quickly pull up the patient’s chart, then it’s a nice time saver. Plus, you can quickly verify that it is indeed the patient that’s calling using the information on the phone. Very cool feature and pretty useful. I imagine if you worked in an office with this you’d take it for granted until you moved to an office that didn’t have it and you’d miss it.

The other feature that’s cool is really just IP phone specific and that’s having a soft phone on your computer (basically the phone just runs on your computer and you can use a headset plugged into your computer). Saves on the cost of the often expensive IP phones and I expect we’re going to see some pretty amazing advances in soft phones.

Like I said. These weren’t things that should change your EMR decision, but it is a preview of some of the types of technologies we can see integrated with an EMR.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of 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.


  • Interesting timing on this article. We just started working with a new IP Phone vendor to integrate our EMR with their phones, which will make it easier for our clients to contact patients, their preferred pharmacies, etc. Glad to hear this kind of feature offering is getting noticed.

  • Bill,
    Tell me more about what integrations you’re doing. The preferred pharmacies is an interesting one.

    I’ve been a big fan of IP phones. I’ve used them in my various jobs since about 2001. They’ve come a long way since then. Plus, they’ve finally reached the point (price, features, complexity, etc) where they are being implemented in the smaller clinical environments. In fact, I know a number of IT firms that implement this type of solution for healthcare offices.

  • I don’t want to give away too much on features in development, but what we’d like to do is make it convenient for our customers to access and use phone numbers in the patient’s chart, whether they’re for the patient, his/her preferred pharmacy, the referring physician, or any other relevant point of contact related to that patient.

    I’m a huge fan of IP phones (and PBXs) as well — We’ve had great success in our clients offices, as well as our own, with these kinds of systems. I especially like being able to automatically forward calls to particular places depending on a variety of conditions (caller ID, time of day, extension, etc. ad nauseum.)

  • Come on Bill. You don’t want to break down your whole company strategy on this blog? I see how it is…lol

    Far too many clinics don’t even think about the stuff you describe. It’s unfortunate.

  • DrM,
    All the installations I’ve been apart of have a regular old PBX and they just do a bridge between the VoIP and the analog.

    However, I have a friend who swears by Asterisk. In fact, I think he was writing a book on it.

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