“WIIFM” (What’s in it for Me)

I can’t remember exactly where I saw someone talk about the “WIIFM” (What’s in it for Me) principle, but it really is an important principle that when understood can have an amazing impact for good. This post isn’t about whether you should live a life asking WIIFM. I’ll leave that question to people much smarter than me. Instead, I want to look at how applying the WIIFM principle to others can help those working on a successful EHR implementation.

In most cases I’m talking about, the WIIFM should be changed to “What’s in it for Them?” Understanding the answer to this question can help you as an EMR consultant, an EMR vendor or even a practice manager or doctor that’s trying to work through an EMR implementation.

One of the first things I cover in my e-Book on EMR selection (It’s free, check it out) is the idea of getting buy in from those that will be affected by the EHR implementation (that’s usually everyone). One of the best ways to get EHR buy in from people is to understand the WIIFM. It’s not fool proof, but it’s one good strategy for getting people on the same bus, going the same direction.

Let me tell you that there’s always a way to find a WIIFM in an EHR implementation. This list of EMR and EHR benefits is a great place to start. However, many of those benefits can be extrapolated in ways that will show what’s in it for every person in the clinic.

Let’s say for example, that your goal for implementing an EHR is to increase clinic revenue by freeing up chart storage space so you have an extra exam room for another provider. You can then talk about what that new revenue can be used for to improve the clinic. Maybe it could include bonus checks or other incentives. These become tangible things that staff can use to better understand WIIFM in an EHR implementation.

I’m sure many of the nay sayers out there are thinking, but an EHR doesn’t provide those benefits. That’s why it’s so important that you define which benefits your clinic is striving to achieve before you select or implement an EHR. The list of benefits you use to show WIIFM ends up being your goals for your EHR implementation. They can be used to define your EHR selection process. They can be included in the EHR contract so you have some assurance or protection if the EHR vendor can’t deliver on their sales promises. Not to mention, after the EHR implementation you have a way to measure if it was a success or not based upon those goals.

Test the WIIFM principle. Not from an arrogant Me Me Me approach. Instead, step into the other people’s shoes and ask WIIFM. This approach can really help improve any EHR Implementation if applied correctly.

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.


  • What is it called when people feel need to spend so much time convincing others of the value of a product or service?
    How about: false, untrue, incorrect, made-up, and just plain wrong…

  • Of course, you’re making the assumption that it takes a lot of time “convincing” people about it. That’s often not true. Often it doesn’t take much at all and it doesn’t take convincing. Most often it just requires providing them good information and they convince themselves.

  • Agreed, EMR’s are not an “if” but “when” idea and most are very excited about applying new technology, sooner rather than later, for the potential effectiveness, efficiency, and additional patient services which can be realized and offered.
    But when you then explain the current HIPAA and HITECH mandate, the excitement quickly fades, the discussion veers off the topic of business efficacy and patient savings, to a frustration about the additional capital required to defer the cost of penalty. Defensive medicine again becomes the “practice” of the day and all the wonderful benefits that is EMR’s are lost due to the CYA mode that will allow the business to continue…
    I would argue WIIFM is “the” question!

  • Wow! Imagine the space freed up to make room for millions of new exam rooms! Wow!

    Unless an EMR/EHR signigicantly raises the practice top line and significantly improves the quality of clinical services provided … all the rest of the benefits noted in the attached link are mute.

  • @ Don,
    My argument exactly.

    Before being forced to an EHR most practices had a PM.


    It made financial sense and you could show an ROI.

    There is no ROI on an EHR.
    Unless you count the Obama check.
    Still for some, that doesn’t cover it.

  • It’s the data dummy…
    My view just went panoramic. I just realized this whole Electronic Healthcare shenanigan it about DATA. “They” want access to the enormous amounts of information all “covered entities” (fancy title) will freely gather and provide (in digital form), and what this will tell them about us. Suddenly “We the People” are all mice participating in this huge national laboratory while “they” perform regional tests, predict disease, and realize effects of treatment on a scale and efficiency like never before.
    Obviously this was never about improving a provider’s ability to effectively and efficiently provide a health service, or the quality of patient care received. It is about the data points contained within all those analog records which no one but the physician previously could see, and this information is so valuable that they are willing to push us to EHR’s regardless of the cost to provider or patient, so let’s stop with the bloviating about all the wonderful things EHR’s will supposedly bring, although some might be realized.
    At the end of the day the powers who want this data are NOT confined or restricted by law, only you are. They just want you to hurry up and “Show Them the Data”! Now quietly pay whatever it cost and get to it…

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