Christmas Scavenger Hunt Inspires EMR Wish List

Happy holidays, dear readers! I hope my latest blog post finds you well, resting comfortably away from your usual place of employment, and not tied to a device despite being “on vacation” or attempting to take “time off.”

My family and I are a bit further South than usual, visiting family in Jacksonville and engaging in a time-honored tradition in nearby St. Augustine – the Holly Jolly Trolley. Never was there a better excuse to turn Christmas lights into a 3-D psychedelic experience.

We turned our annual light-seeing drive through the Blackhawk Bluff neighborhood into a Christmas lights scavenger hunt, checking off images from our list as we came across them during our drive. Suitable for the younger crowd, our checklist had images of traditional holiday décor – snowmen, stars, candy canes, candles, etc. The gingerbread man gave us the most trouble, and eventually we had to settle for seeing a gingerbread man windsock.

Driving home I got to thinking about what a similar hunt would look like, say, at HIMSS next year. Gather a group of providers, give them a list of EMR attributes and set them loose in the exhibit hall to find as many as possible within a certain amount of time. I wonder how many vendors/booths they’d have to stop at before they checked everything off the list.

For that matter, it would be interesting to turn the check list into a wish list – pinpoint a number of features providers most want in their EMR and see which vendor offers the most in one package. This would then of course lead to a comparison of price and customer reviews, but that’s another blog entirely.

What would such a check list / wish list look like? Based on the major healthcare trends that have come to light over the last year, I’m willing to bet these features (however pie-in-the-sky they might be) would be included:

  • Guaranteed security / protection, especially with regard to mobile EMR applications
  • Innate knowledge of ICD-9 to ICD-10 code translation
  • Ability to connect to any HIE at the click of a button
  • CPOE
  • Pop-up that suggests, on a patient-by-patient basis, how best to digitally engage with that particular person based on their preferred method of communication
  • Suggested protocols culled from evidence-based medicine analytics

What other features would likely be included? What vendors already offer a majority of these features? Do they exist, or will tomorrow’s start up be next year’s true game changer when it comes to success in the EMR marketplace? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

About the author

Jennifer Dennard

Jennifer Dennard

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.


  • Hi Jennifer,

    Because of the exponential increase in ambulatory and inpatient EHR vendors since 2010’s ARRA/HITECH subsidies, in the next few years physicians may have more success seeing their EHR functionality wish lists fulfilled. As of today, ONC lists a total of 1,486 ambulatory and 277 inpatient “complete” EHR products that it has certified for the combination of 2011 and 2014 Edition Meaningful Use criteria. (See: In the emerging consumer-centered, value-driven U.S. healthcare marketplace, the EHR vendors that survive and thrive will need to differentiate their brand by successfully competing on the value (quality/price) their product actually delivers to its end users.

    However, right now, one very valuable EHR function that you will definitely not find among the existing EHR functionality criteria used by ONC or CCHIT is an intuitive, standard reporting format that, for the first time, could enable cumulative patients’ diagnostic test results inside EHRs to be efficiently viewed and shared.

    One of the most glaring examples of defective clinical health IT design is the antiquated formats still being used to report the results of patients’ diagnostic tests to physicians and patients. This is a classic user interface problem which has been overlooked or ignored since medical computing began in the 1960s with Homer Warner (1) and Octo Barnett. (2) The tsunami of test results data is important because it constitutes more than 80 percent of the objective data in an individual’s medical record and it directly impacts at least 70 percent of all critical patient care decisions. (3)

    The basic “job” that American physicians and patients need to get done with the billions of annual diagnostic test results is viewing and sharing them efficiently. The basic problem they encounter daily is the user interfaces of EHR, PHR and HIE platforms that use variable reporting formats to display results as incomplete and fragmented data. The adverse patient safety, physician workflow and redundant testing effects produced by poor user interface design and unclear data displays are very familiar to clinicians and nurses, but until recently, they have not been recognized by researchers, journalists, policy makers, or the vendors of bad health IT systems.

    Fortunately, there is a logical and technically feasible solution. It will require the development and widespread adoption of an intuitive, easy-to-use, standard reporting format that can display the results of all 7,500 available tests as clinically integrated, actionable information. Accomplishing this may finally become possible because of unsustainable healthcare costs, disruption of “HIE 1.0” by ONC’s emerging portfolio of open source interoperability standards, national expansion of consumer-centered, value-driven financing and delivery reforms and an evolving health IT system vendor marketplace that is more crowded and more competitive.


  • Bob, thanks for such an insightful comment! I’ll be interested to see what vendors on the HIMSS show floor might offer anything similar to what you describe above. Please let me know if there are any in particular I should check out.

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