The Cult of Cool in a World of EMRs

I realized two things the other day. Things I’ve been in denial about. Things I just couldn’t bring myself to admit to anyone else in the world of healthcare IT.

I’m old, and I’m not cool.

I’ve hidden these two flaws fairly well, but a recent high-profile tech acquisition has forced me to let the cat out of the bag. I’ve never used Tumblr (or Instagram for that matter), and I can’t force myself to close my Yahoo! account. I’ve checked that email address for the last 12 years. I fondly remember when my boyfriend/husband set it up for me in an Internet café in Amsterdam. He had been demanding for some time that I rid myself of my address. Graduation was looming and it was time for something more adult, more cool.

My how times change. It’s people like me, apparently, that are holding Yahoo! back and what prompted it to purchase Tumblr. As I’m sure you’ve heard (especially if you’re not cool like me and listen to NPR all the time), it paid over a billion dollars to acquire the micro-blogging site in an effort to get its ads in front of Tumblr’s 100 million users – most of which are young, cool and influential amongst their peers. It’s a demographic most marketers can only dream about having dropped in their laps. Now it’s up to Yahoo! to not screw it up, as CEO Melissa Mayer so succinctly said during a recent conference call.

News of the acquisition got me wondering, are EMRs cool? I think there’s certainly a hip factor around certain parts of healthcare IT. Openness, innovation, mobile health, social networking and bow ties seem to be in right now, but I’m not sure I’d go so far as to call any one particular EMR cool. Though athenahealth and Practice Fusion jump to mind as fairly cool from a branding perspective. Epic certainly seems to have won the word-of-mouth game, so perhaps it can be lumped into the cool category as well.

Perhaps the fact that only three brands come to mind is a good thing. I hope that most companies are spending more time focused on development than branding. Surely players in this most sacred of spaces would never acquire one company over the other purely to latch onto a coolness factor? I could understand the business acumen behind the decision to acquire a start up in the “hopes of gaining an edge in growth,” which is how a recent Wall Street Journal article described the Yahoo!/Tumblr transaction. Goodness knows there’s no shortage of start ups in healthcare right now.

How do you define cool in today’s world of healthcare IT? Is it about technology, branding or some unidentifiable “je ne sais quoi?” Share your comments with me below.

John’s Editorial Note: If Jenn’s not young and cool, then the rest of us are in real trouble.

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.


  • As a UX wonk your comments made me so very pleased. Healthcare technology doesn’t have to be dull – quite the opposite – marry an intuitive (and may I be so bold as to say “sexy”) iPad interface with deep medical knowledge and a system that learns how you practice and you drive not only efficiency, but make using EMR a pleasure. Thank you for one of the nicest complements we could receive!

  • Daniel,
    I think the other key benefit you have is that you focused on specific specialties. Do you think you’d be able to do the same beautiful interface for every specialty? Maybe you’re working on that now.

  • John,
    Staying speciality specific absolutely is one of our strengths. We are focused on visual / surgical specialities. Areas where the diagnoses are visually represented and can be “touched” — so it’s perfect for Dermatology, Plastic Surgery, Ophthalmology, and Orthopedics. You should see the new 3D interfaces we have developed – 360 views representing over 36,000 individual anatomical locations. All on the iPad!

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