Real Innovation in EMR Will Come with Healthcare Innovation

It seems like EMR innovation has been a strong theme on EMR and HIPAA ever since I wrote about the lack of EHR innovation at HIMSS. I of course clarified my original post with this post on the future of EMR and EMR innovation and then wrote about the challenge that doctors have to differentiate EHR software amidst all the noise. I also think it’s worth noting that EMR software can be a tremendous innovation for a practice that is using paper charts. I just don’t see an EMR software that is the must go to EMR system. There’s no “iPad” of EMR software (yet?).

After careful consideration of these ideas, I can’t help but wonder if an EMR that provides innovation in healthcare is the innovation that will have an “iPad-onian” moment. Basically the EMR facilitates a dramatic change in the way healthcare is delivered. This isn’t some feature or function that the EHR company can announce at HIMSS. EMR features and functions will never be heard above the noise. EHR vendors are already saying they can do everything, whether they can or not. Instead I’m talking about a real change to the way healthcare is provided and that’s facilitated by an EMR software.

For example, is there a doctor brave enough to have an all iPad/iPhone medical practice? Their EMR software would all be in the cloud and would facilitate online visits with patients or in house patients with visits where the EMR software was easily accessible using wireless technologies. They wouldn’t even have an office. They would do half of their visits from the comfort of their homes and half at people’s houses. Would that cause people to talk? I think so. Would the business model for the practice need to be different? I think so. Would an EMR and related technology be essential to make this happen? Yes. Could an EMR company be built to facilitate this type of a medical practice? Sounds like an interesting franchise model to me.

I’m not sure if this is a good idea or not. Plus, there are certainly people a lot smarter, more informed and innovative than me that could make this type of idea even better. However, it’s becoming quite clear that building just one more feature and function isn’t going to differentiate you from the rest of the EMR companies. That’s why I won’t be surprised if the real “innovative” EMR company will likely be a startup company. They’ll likely not know very much about how healthcare is “suppose” to work. They’ll also likely be told that their model is impossible and just won’t work. Instead they’ll just focus on using technology to connect the doctors and patients in some non-traditional manner. To me, that’s the type of companies that healthcare really needs.

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.


  • Agree with you completely, John. Especially the part about change coming from a startup. Certification, however, is a big barrier to entry for the startup who are trying to do it their own way (as you have also mentioned before). Looking forward to seeing the next wave of EMR, after these dinosaurs get their comeuppance.

  • Good article John, the day EMR firms begin to ” think “like a consumer” and focus on consumer-driven needs we will begin to witness value and innovation. EMR firms got caught up in a provider driven model and ignored the key stakeholder, the consumer. A balanced approach will produce innovation.

  • I gave this concept some thought as my office lease was about to expire. I was solo and not taking any insurance. My patient numbers were shrinking because of that, but I wondered about a fast laptop and WAS type connection coupled with house calls. I figured I would carry an ice chest for blood specimens and take them daily to the hospital lab. I would have a second line at home with a fax machine on it for reports. My ECG machine was fairly portable. Many of my patients were older and house calls would be appreciated.
    On the other hand, I would need a very fast connection, though my database was sitting on the very laptop that was with me. Apple’s OSX seemed to fit the bill and my office software was initially a Mac OS.
    Then I got more serious about the crowded place that I lived and the fact we spent the weekends going to another large town 35 miles distant to shop and to escape the sardine-like suburb where we lived.
    We moved to a place where a group offered me a job.

  • DocJim,
    I don’t think this model would work everywhere, but it probably would be most successful in a sardine-like suburb where you wouldn’t have to travel much to see your patients.

  • Great article. Using the technology to go back to visiting patients at home would be a welcome initiative for selected patients. It’s been said that the technology has created isolation between people including physicians & patients. To use it to move to a kinder, gentler, high-touch model of patient care would likely increase patient satisfaction, outcomes and maybe physician satisfaction. A start-up EMR company might just do it!

  • Noise? I look forward to the time HIPAA, HITECH, and PCI DDS compliance penalties are sternly levied and healthcare begins taking their responsibility to protect our information seriously. An awesome device today which “might” allow an easier business processes doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a smart business decision. There are so many additional security risks brought by today’s portable gadgets which are actually uncontrolled and a serious threat to the enterprise and it protected content. Confidence in EMR does still have a long way to go…this industry should move beyond the painful security strategy of HOPE!
    Companies Pick and Choose Which Data Breaches to Report
    Most enterprises poor at measuring information security effectiveness
    HIPAA poses greatest compliance challenges for information security

  • as a startup company focusing on the healthcare industry, I would like to corporate with anyone who have the interest and passionate about it. To combine with the tablet technology and EMR might be a good idea.

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