Does adding all these EHR and other tech add or subtract to healthcare?

Such a compelling and tough question to consider. Let me repeat it again so you can let it roll around in your mind for a minute:

Does adding all these EHR and other tech add or subtract to healthcare?

This was one of the off hand comments I heard someone make in their presentation at TEDMED and I think it’s a serious question that every EHR company and healthcare IT vendor should consider.

The simple answer to the question is that some companies add to healthcare and some take away from healthcare. That’s just the nature of markets. However, there’s a deeper part of the question which fundamentally asks if the shift to electronic is helping healthcare or hurting it.

As I’ve mentioned previously, at my core I believe that technology has an overall positive impact on any industry. In my heart I believe that technology has the potential to improve most things.

My fear with the above question is whether we’re implementing the right technology that will help us have a positive impact on healthcare or whether we’re currently implementing dated technology which will set us back for years to come.

I got in a heated discussion today on LinkedIn about the MUMPS database. A HUGE portion of healthcare is built on the back of MUMPS. Nothing against MUMPS (although it does sound like an STD), but is it going to be powerful enough to “add” to healthcare or will we reach a point that its limitations start subtracting from what could be possible?

I don’t necessarily want this post to become a MUMPS pros and cons post, but I think it’s a great illustration of why I’m reticent to say that the technology foundation that healthcare is building today is providing a platform for an amazing healthcare IT future.

On the other side of the spectrum is the plethora of smart phone apps and devices in healthcare. You can’t tell me that the Alivecor device or AirStrip’s work in the mobile field isn’t incredibly exciting. They’re leveraging the latest technology in a beautiful way.

One challenge we do face is the HUGE number of EMR companies and mobile health apps. With so many companies, we’re bound to have a healthcare software graveyard soon. Hopefully the companies we find in the graveyard are those who were subtracting from healthcare instead of adding to it. Unfortunately, that’s still just a hope and may not be the reality.

Many of our newer readers might not be familiar with my reference to Jabba the Hutt EHRs. The concept would seem to apply well to this post. For those not familiar with the concept, Jabba the Hutt was a really powerful individual, but it’s safe to say that he wasn’t very nimble. Does this sound a bit like some of the healthcare IT and EHR companies that dominate the market today?

Maybe I’m wrong, but the nimble innovative companies are the ones that usually add the most to healthcare versus subtracting. Luckily history is on my side. I’m just not sure we have enough Princess Leia companies that are in a position to wrap their chain around the neck of Jabba the Hutt companies.

I’ll let you decide which companies you believe add to healthcare and which ones subtract from healthcare. Although, I think we’d all benefit if every company focused on adding to healthcare.

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.

1 Comment

  • John, you have touched on several topics that I blogged about earlier this week in response to another post. Is technology helping or not? I completely agree that some companies are helping and some are not.

    Early in my IT career, we had the motto “No one loses their job buying from AT&T”. It seems healthcare has embraced this same mindset. Rather than spend a few weeks researching many of the great options in the marketplace, the buyers are relying on, what you call, “Jabba the Hutt” vendors. Instead of investigating the entrepreneurs who are creating genuinely innovative solutions that add substantial value to how we practice medicine, they are buying from these dinosaur companies who are spending millions in marketing and pushing outdated technology and outdated ideas. The is the healthcare equivalent of banging a drum next to the patient while sawing off his leg.

    Companies with innovative products and ideas exist. They are building solutions that can revolutionize this industry. BUT, this only works if the buyers are willing to think beyond saving their jobs. Shop harder. Get the users involved in the purchase. Buy tools that work better, not just tools with a familiar label.

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