Analytics Integration Back to EHR Can’t Disrupt the Workflow

One of the challenges we face with healthcare analytics is getting the right information to the right care provider at the right time. In many cases that means presenting the analytics information to the doctor or nurse in the EHR at the point of care. It’s hard enough to know which data to present to which person and at what point in the care process. However, EHR vendors have made this integration even more difficult since it’s not easy to interface the healthcare analytics insights into the EHR workflow. The integrations that I’ve seen are crude at best.

That’s absolutely where we need to go though. There are very few situations where you can disrupt the healthcare providers workflow and send them to another system. I love the second screen concept as much as the next, but that’s not reasonable for most organizations.

I did recently talk to a BI Manager from a hospital who talked about the way they’ve integrated some of their analytics into the EHR workflow of their doctors. What they were doing was basic at best, but did illustrate an important point of learning: inform, don’t interrupt.

The concept of informing the doctor and not interrupting the doctor is a good one. While there are likely a few cases where you’d want to interrupt the doctor, it’s more common that you want to inform the doctor of some insight on the patient as opposed to interrupting the workflow. Doctors love having the right information at their fingertips. Interrupting their workflow (especially when it was unnecessary) causes alert fatigue.

No doubt you have to be careful with how you inform the doctor as well. The insights you offer the doctor better be actionable and useful or they’ll become blind to that as well. That’s the challenge we face with healthcare analytics. How do we take the data and make it useful to the providers? The first step is going to be creating a pathway of communication from the analytics into the EHR. Everything else will evolve from that connection.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, 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.


  • The irony is that the business intelligence, data analytics, and “big data” industries have some of the most sophisticated workflow technology around, used to acquire, pipe, transform, distribute, and display data. Part of the reason it’s difficult to usefully feedback analytics results into EHR workflows is that EHR workflow is relatively hardcoded, especially in contrast to any data analytics platform with user customizable workflows executed by workflow/dataflow engines. Instead, many EHRs resort to hardcoded analytics workflows, since this is fundamentally all that can be done in such workflow-oblivous EHR architectures. As a result, the data is not available in the right form at the right time to right person. This is essentially where the interruptions come from, inability for users to customize workflow and dataflows to their specific preferences and work-a-day needs.

  • Good point. What’s interesting is that many EHR vendors have been successful because of there hard coded workflows. Organizations love to use the hard coded workflows as an excuse for why they have to standardize care. We’ll see how that unravels over time.

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