In my ongoing series of Major EHR Developments from John Halamka (see my previous EHR In The Cloud post), his second major EHR development from the Technology Review article is: Modular Software Unleashes Innovation. The following excerpt from his article sums it up well:
Until very recently, innovation in medical IT has depended upon the development schedules of a few very large vendors who sell hospital systems with $100 million price tags. In the future, electronic health records will become increasingly modular, similar to the online app stores where consumers download games or programs for their phones.
The idea of modular healthcare IT has been around for a long time. I think I first saw this concept when I learned about a group called the Clinical Groupware Collaborative. I haven’t heard much out of them recently, but every once in a while I see that they’re still working to make Halamka’s comments about modular EHR software a reality.
I’m certain that Judy from Epic would argue that such modular EHR software is a risk to the healthcare industry. She’s probably right. There are risks to modular software. However, there are even more risks and disadvantages associated with a monolithic EHR vendor that won’t interact with other modular clinical software. I believe that one day this will come back to bite Epic as new CIO’s who weren’t part of the $100 million hospital software purchase will start to embrace a more modular strategy.
Turns out that I think providers will actually be the strongest proponents of the modular strategy. They’re already buying mobile devices with money out of their own pockets and so they’re going to start using apps that will help them provide better care. Hospitals will have a hard time controlling it and they’ll eventually realize that the best way to control it is to embrace it.
The most unfortunate part of this EHR development is that it’s going to take a long time for this development to become a reality. However, little by little we’ll get there.