I often get emails from people asking me to evaluate an idea. It’s always interesting to see what people come up with and how little research they’ve usually done on a specific topic. They just have an idea and start running with it. I actually love that attitude and I think that’s what makes entrepreneurs great.

Well, one of the ideas someone sent me was the concept of implementing a kind of “Pre-EMR” before you go forward with the full EMR implementation. Here’s the description they sent me:

The idea is to implement Smartlink long before a full EMR implementation. Once an EMR is selected then the data stored can be used to populate the EMR. The active interfaces to Smartlink can be aggregated and forwarded to the EMR with a single interface.

Key benefits:
– Replaces the fax machine for receiving reports. Labs and Hospitals have been able to send HL7 for years, but Physicians offices dont have the means to receive.
– No more lost reports. Office staff can find reports in seconds instead of many minutes.
– Application export provides historical dump to pre-populate EMR during implementation.

I find this concept really intriguing. There’s no doubt that many clinics aren’t in a solid position where they’re ready to go full bore on an EMR. As I’ve said before, poor processes before an EMR will just lead to worse processes after an EMR. The technology will often exacerbate anything that’s not well done in your clinic. So, my first recommendation to those implementing an EMR is to clean up the organizational issues before you implement an EMR.

That said, technology can be such an incredible asset to your clinic. So, the concept of doing a Pre-EMR could be interesting. Some of it reminds me of my post about Healthcare IT projects you can implement today. However, I think it maybe takes it one step further when you start talking about creating interfaces with other outside entities. Building this type of interaction might be a great idea for those that aren’t quite ready for a full grown EMR. Plus, much of the equipment you purchase for this can then be easily transitioned to an EMR once you’ve had time to appropriately research which EMR is best for you.

Just one word of caution. Drill the Pre-EMR company about how you’re going to get your data out of their system and into your EMR. This will be important sooner or later.

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.


  • In “Pre-EMR” there are references to “Smartlink”. I did some cursory research but could not pin down exactly what Smartlink is. So I decided to take the easy road and ask. What is Smartlink? Would you point me to it?

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