You might be a Jabba the Hutt EMR if….

Many long time readers of EMR and HIPAA will know I like to call big, bulky, old EMR software systems, Jabba the Hutt EMR. I think comparing these old legacy EMR software to Jabba the Hutt is a great comparison. For those that don’t know Star Wars that well (and I’m no expert), Jabba the Hutt was a very powerful figure. Although, over time he’d grown so big that he wasn’t very nimble (to say the least). So, despite his power and prestige, there was little to admire about him.

Does that sound a bit like some legacy EMR software? They’re big and powerful figures in the industry. However, their software has grown to the point that it’s clunky and not very nimble. Getting something changed on it is difficult and it’s built on a platform that makes it hard to add new features. Thus, they are Jabba the Hutt EMR.

Without naming names, here’s a list of things that will help you identify the Jabba the Hutt EMR software.

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EMR if…
your interface looks like it’s from the 80’s.

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EMR if…
you use a non SQL database.

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EMR if…
you’re better at marketing than programming.

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EMR if…
you cludged together your PMS that you bought from someone else.

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EMR if…
your interface looks more like DOS than Windows.

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EMR if…
your diagnosis description is restricted to 50 characters.

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EMR if…
your EMR salespeople don’t know your EMR developers who don’t know your EMR customer service people.

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EMR if…
iPad interface….what’s that?

I think it’s worth noting that having one or two of these things doesn’t absolutely mean an EMR vendor is a Jabba the Hutt EMR vendor. Although, the more of the above characteristics an EMR vendor has, the more you should look into it.

I hope others will add to this list in the comments.

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.


  • You might be a Jabba the Hutt EMR if…
    you use a non SQL database.

    I believe that this should be the other way around. NoSQL databases are making an impact on managing data that is not tabular; and healthcare data is definitely not tabular.

  • +1 on Tim’s Response

    Document Based DB’s fit in healthcare, especially when weighing how “transactional” an EMR really is. Epic runs on InterSystems Cache, definitely a non sql db.

  • Tim and Ron,
    I knew that some people wouldn’t like the SQL one. Certainly it’s a topic that could be hotly debated. Plus, there’s some really large scale web applications (outside and inside healthcare) that are proving the benefit of the non-sql databases.

    Although, my perspectives generally come from the ambulatory EHR perspective. Maybe it’s different when you’re dealing with a large hospital install like Epic might do. I’d just be really reticent to suggest a solo or small doctor’s practice use an EMR that wasn’t SQL based. Particularly if the EMR software is an in house server. There might be a few exceptions in the small doctor space, but they would be few and far between.

  • Slight amendment to #3 from me:

    You might be a Jabba the Hutt EMR if…
    you’re equally bad at marketing and programming.

    Or put another way:

    You might be a Jabba the Hutt EMR if…
    your limited success in the EMR market seems purely accidental.

  • Emily,
    Nice one. That made me laugh. I’m not sure the history of Jabba the Hutt, but it does seem surprising and likely accidental that he’s so powerful. I’m sure that applies to a few EMR vendors out there as well.

  • Cache and older MultiValue databases (common in legacy healthcare systems, like Pick/D3, jBase or Universe) are a much harder sell these days.

    People want SQL because they want BI/data warehousing/data mining/analytics (and those tools are just not quite as great in any other environment), and because they want something that feels “more standard”. I know this quite certainly from painful experience!

  • Almost didn’t stop to read this one, John. I’m glad I did.

    I’m pondering…the l a s t w o r d is that if it weren’t for some of these e p i c ally priced Jabba the Hutts – I never would have learned things like……drum roll……COBOL.

  • Wes,
    I’m glad you did too. I’ve heard so many good things about COBOL. I’m glad I never learned it.

    I can’t believe I forgot the most obvious Jabba the Hutt characteristic…epically priced. Thanks for the reminder.

  • You might be a Jabba the Hutt EMR if…

    Your box is listed by a number of big state RECs as their top choice for EPs

  • Yes, and good job. An unintended consequence of the ARRA/HITECH/REC system is that the “dinosaur” systems (the ones no one would buy before ARRA) have been cemented in place largely because the RECs won’t “wreck-o-mend” other than the very large balance sheet vendors.

  • I wish I had more numbers on the impact of the RECs on EHR adoption. Although, on face I tend to agree with you that the RECs “preferred lists” have had a negative impact on EHR adoption over all.

Click here to post a comment