How To Sell Your EMR To Patients

Today, I visited a mid-sized suburban hospital on some routine business.  Before leaving, I stopped and had lunch at the cafeteria, then tossed the trash into the barrel and stashed  the tray. Then, between the barrels, I noted a small sign — clearly designed for consumers — assuring them that EpicCare had arrived and that they should be, well, psyched.

The sign, lodged between the garbage barrels, said something to the effect of “Get well faster with EpicCare.”  I stared for a moment, incredulous. Did the otherwise sharp people running this hospital think this was going to encourage staff members OR patients to get excited about their Epic investment?

If I were running that hospital, here’s what I’d do to convince patients that the EMR offered an attractive  benefits:

*  Hand out fliers to every patient who entered the emergency department or inquired at the Information Desk outlining the reasons EMRs are going to make their lives easier and care safer

*  Offer a kiosk in key areas displaying a (simplified, attractive) version of the the EMR that people can experiment with which will help them become more comfortable with the idea

* Make sure your hospital’s home page offers videos of real doctors, nurses and other caregivers explaining how the EMR has changed their life for the better

* Hand out bookmarks, pressure balls, pens or other corporate toys with the URL for a site offering patients access to your patient portal.  Remind them verbally that the portal is there too. And why not put up a banner?

When Kaiser Permanente launched the PHR side of its overall EHR implementation, it used all of these tricks and more. Now, multiple millions of patients use the PHR (and EMR underlying it) to schedule appointments, look up lab results, check their history and more.

Without a big sell like this, your hospital is missing out big time on the PR benefits of making the big spend on EMRs. Worse, you’re missing out on the chance to get patients excited about what you’re doing.  Don’t waste that chance!


About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.


  • Anne, I have enjoyed and agreed with most of your posts but in this case you fell into that common trap of thinking patients in general are like yourself. In my line of work, I am trying to engage the patient in front of me. You simply cannot engage a scared or vulnerable patient with EMRs, WOWs, the latest great apps, or technology in general. You engage them by looking in their eyes, listening carefully, and showing real compassion. Technology has always, and always will, only get in the way of this process. The best technologies for the bedside are those that disappear and let doctors and nurses do what they do best: caring for patients.

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