Doctors Selecting an EMR Getting Hung on Small Details

One day, recently, I took a phone call from a local general practitioner who wanted to ask me more about a particular EMR system he was interested in trying.  He wanted to ask if the system would allow his staff to search for the next available slot on the calendar when scheduling a patient. While this EMR software  allows one to look at a weekly view of a doctor’s calendar, the particular function in which the computer searches for you, thus replacing a function of the front desk ancillary staff, does not exist.  When I said that, no, the particular system he was considering would not do that, but that the EMR has a lot of other great features, he said, well, it would be a major problem for his staff to have to search on their own, and so he would look for another EMR system.

I do hope that this doctor finds what he is looking for in an EMR system, but I also wonder if doctors aren’t getting hung up on EMR features that they imagine to be essential and it results in their failing to try or to adopt a particular EMR system.  However, it is certainly understandable that a doctor would want to start with the EMR system that meets as many of their needs as possible without causing a workflow change.  Knowing when to say when in the world of EMR selection is probably one of the hardest things currently facing doctors wanting to go digital.

About the author

Dr. Michael West

Dr. Michael West

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC. He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC in 2009. He can be contacted at


  • It’s easy to get hung up on details that are of little consequence but for any organization with, say, more than 10 healthcare professionals, a “look-ma-no-hands” appointment search is not a detail.

    Not only do you save having to print out provider schedules, a “next-available time slot” is fast, patient-centric, and does auto-resource allocation and workload leveling across providers.

    You can have any number of parameters for an appointment search (medical specialty, location, language, cultural compatibility, type of appointment) and a system of the type I am describing will immediately give you the first 10-20 available time slots. For wait lists, you can do a search once, save the search criteria then piano play the search each day, which saves a lot of time.

    For behavioral health where group sessions are common, the time slot picker will take into account the capacity of the group to avoid overbooking.

    Efficiency does not end here – given a confirmed appointment, you are one click away from a progress note and e-Rx order and you can also record no-shows, cancelled appointments etc and by encoding appointments, you are again, from the appointment itself, one click away from auto posting of a charge line.

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