An EHR “Voice” When You Don’t Have One

I was struck by the following tweet by ANdre Picard and the corresponding article that he links to by Heather Thiessen on Qreview. Go ahead and read the article. I’ll be here when you get back.

This is a powerful concept that I don’t think we fully appreciate, because in our current healthcare environment our EHR isn’t a very good voice on our behalf. In most cases our EHR record is muted and stuck in a data silo at our physician’s office. This is sad because of what Heather describes as the possible benefit of interoperable EHR:

In retrospect, having an EHR in place could have made my hospital visit in Ontario much more efficient, considerably less stressful, and perhaps even less dangerous for all involved. Luckily, my husband had considerable knowledge about my specific peculiarities and allergies, as I was not fully able to communicate them myself. Electronic health records could, essentially, become a patient’s voice when the patient doesn’t have one.

I love that idea of an EHR being the patient voice when the patient doesn’t have one. I know there are a lot of companies working on this problem and coming at it from 100 different directions. The day our healthcare data gets its voice can’t come soon enough for me.

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.


  • In a perfect world where all EHRs can talk to each other, then this would work great.

    Until then, if that ever happens, we have to take some responsibility for ourselves.

    Whether that be a PHR that is stored on one of the remaining online health records sites…
    If we carry it around ourself on a thumb drive.

    I’m fortunate that my family is healthy.
    But, if someone in my family had a chronic issue, I’d be dang sure to have detailed records on hand, either paper or electronic.

    Even in a system, like in Canada, where healthcare is “free” and everyone is somewhat taken care of, you still need to look out for #1.

    If all you do is hope for someone to fix a problem for you…it’l never get fixed.

    Also, if you haven’t noticed, the Canadian health system isn’t the great example many try to make it.

  • I’m not sure an EHR is the voice of anyone except the person(s) putting information into it. Unless we have the ability to verify and contribute to our EHR, the EHR is the voice of the clinician, not the patient.


  • Mark James,
    In most cases, you’re right about the current EHR software being mostly the voice of the providers that enter information into it. However, that’s a really important voice for you if you’re going to see other providers. You’re right though that it is only a partial representation of your voice.

  • Out of a number of doctors and practices our family uses, ONE has an EHR – fortunately with a portal. Happens to be EPIC Ambulatory. Another system we use is apparently getting to roll out the same (hopefully better implemented). Another practice is looking around – but they’ve dumped the work on the office manager who seems badly overloaded already.

    There seems to be little desire in my area for hospitals or separate practices to hook up to an HIE, let alone exchange data. Yes, I know that should improve in a couple years. We really have no viable PHR choice, and so far just one portal from one doctor. So as nice – even critical as it would be to be able to live up to what happened in the article, my guess is that many of us are at least a couple years away from really beginning to do this.

    We’ve got lots of reason to want this; we look forward to when it actually happens!

  • Thanks for causing a discussion on EHR. I know Canada is working on the EHR. It is a slow process but I feel it is becoming a focal point and will occur sooner than later. Many provinces are working on this now.

    I live with two chronic illnesses and feel that EHR is a key for those with such illnesses. This would make traveling easier and could possibly be patient accessed EHR to help update information.

    Time will tell.


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