One More Reason to Implement an EMR – Genomics

Katherine Rourke, on my sister site EMR and EHR, wrote an interesting piece on Adding Genomic Info to the EMR. Here’s a short excerpt from the post. You should go and read the rest of the post as well.

As the author notes, some specialties have already begun to tailor drug treatments to individual patients based on their genomic profile. For example, DNA sequencing of tumors in non-Hodgkin’s and Mantle Cell lymphoma can lead to personalized cancer vaccines that can produce great results, notes writer Gerry Higgins of the NIH.

Such data can also be used for a growing number of clinical situations, such as tailoring Coumadin doses to specific patients and providing psychiatric patients with the appropriate drug.

I’d been meaning to write about genomics and EMR for a while and so I’m glad that Katherine did. In one of my more interesting discussions at HIMSS with CMO of Nuance, Dr Nick (sorry, his last name is too hard to spell), we talked about the future of EMR and the possible benefits it could provide to patient care, diagnosing, etc. Nuance had partnered with IBM’s Watson project (the famous Jeopardy Watson) to apply the Watson technology to healthcare. At its core is using technology to crunch a lot of data and provide some meaningful (sorry I had to use the word) results or information.

As this discussion progressed, I casually suggested that one day we’ll need the same sort of processing across things like a person’s genome. The genome project isn’t quite a consumer commodity, but it’s getting there. One day, it won’t be at all surprising for us to bring our PHR info along with our personal genome to the doctor’s office. The lady at the front desk will ask you for a copy of your genome. Pretty crazy to consider, but probably much closer to happening than we realize.

Imagine trying to somehow process the information found in a genome in a paper based world. Exactly! The thought is so unreasonable you have to just laugh. I don’t follow the science of using the genome in healthcare that closely, but the examples in the above article by Katherine are quite interesting.

Plus, I think we’re still in an old world mentality where the world is still flat when it comes to understanding the data that’s available in the human genome. One day some remarkable humane genome Christopher Columbus is going to discover a new world that nobody knew about before. EMR software will be the tool used by most doctors to tap into that new world of healthcare based on the human genome.

This is why I’ve argued for so long about the possible long term benefits of having an EMR. The integration of a patient’s genome into their healthcare is just one of those potential long term benefits of having an EMR in your office.

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.


  • Whether it is the human genome or pure data research, a “big database in the sky” of PHI (de-identified of course) is extremely valuable.

    Look at the race to collect general data on all of us by Google, Apple & Facebook.

    Of course, the PHI data is valuable in a different way than G, A or F would use it (advertising vs. pure medical research).

    BUT we may be forgetting one thing: how many different HIEs will we end up with when all is said and done?

    Had the government forced everyone to go with that free EHR AVista that the government actually created, then all data would more easily be used for research.

    The way things are now it will be complete chaos.

    Unless EHRs are required by a future Meaningful Use stage to automatically push data to an MQIC-like database in the sky.

  • Interesting comment about Vista EHR and interoperability. I say this, because I’ve read a number of stories where even within the VA (which uses Vista) that there were challenges of data interoperability. So, just being on the same software doesn’t solve the interoperability issues. Especially when they’re stored in separate silos of data.

    No doubt the data is incredibly valuable though.

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