Will an EMR’s Quality Metrics Differentiate it from Other EMRs?

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.

Bob Coi, MD

This is a fascinating look at EMRs and future differentiation in the EHR market. There’s little doubt we could use some EMR differentiation with so many EMR companies still out there. I’m just not sure that the quality of care that an EMR provides is going to be why a doctor selects one EMR over another EMR.

Every doctor I know wants to provide great care to their patients. Every patient I know wants to go to the doctor who provides them the best care. The problem is that most doctors don’t see a direct correlation between EMR use and the quality of care given. Patients don’t either, and the other challenge is that patients have no way to measure the quality of care they’re given anyway. The closest we come to knowing if the doctor provided quality care is that as a patient I know I’m sick and then I get better. I guess if I got better, then the doctor must have provided me quality care.

With this said, I think there’s the possibility that an EMR discovers a way to clearly show that something they do improves the care of the patient. The incremental document management and simple alert notifications that we see from EMR’s today won’t show that clear improvement in care.

No, we have to think much bigger to clearly show that the care provided was better because of the EMR and that the improved care wouldn’t have been possible without the EMR. An example of this would be integrating genomic data into the care provided. What if genomic data influenced which drugs you prescribed so that the drug was perfectly tailored to the patient? This is a great example where it would literally improve the care you provide a patient and it would be impossible without the technology to do the analysis. Assuming this technology was integrated with the EMR, it would be impossible for doctors not to use the EMR.

This is just one example. I’m sure creative entrepreneurs will come up with many more. Showing that EMR improves quality of care is a really high barrier. Plus, changing physicians perceptions on EMR is going to be really hard even if an EMR system does indeed improve the quality of care. Some company will do it and then Dr. Coi will be right that an EMR’s quality metrics will differentiate it from other EMR companies.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of HealthcareScene.com, 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, EXPO.health, 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.

1 Comment

  • John,

    When I go to my allergist, I don’t worry TOO much that she does not use an EHR. Small practice, records that just aren’t all that huge and actually work fairly well on paper. Biggest issue is that she does not ePrescribe – and that might come without her using a full EHR.

    When someone I know goes to their hematologist, the lack of an EHR is very scary. There is no way this doctor can really track progress of a patient over years versus various treatments – and it is obvious every time he tries to leaf through an immense paper file.

    These are polar opposites, of course, but it seems clear to me that on a day to day basis it is far more important in some practices then in others to have a good EHR going. In between it may be less clear. However, while patients may not see advantages, doctors certainly should – with things like repeat test avoidance, population health and far more. And doctors should take a minute here and there to explain the EHR and show the patient what it does, what it has, and get the patient involved via a portal.

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