The Biggest Challenge in Healthcare: Excuses

In one of my many conversations, someone told me the following quote that really stuck with me. I can’t remember who told me it and they didn’t want to be named, but I thought the comment was incredibly insightful.

The problem with healthcare is that it’s all complex. If people want to find an excuse not to do something, they can find one.

I think this quote is spot on. Is there anything in healthcare that isn’t complex? At least in healthcare technology, everything is complex. It’s not enough to just create a solution and roll it out tomorrow. You have to consider HIPAA laws, FDA regulations, reimbursement regulations, Federal laws, state laws, medical licensures, medical liability, etc etc etc.

Doctors principle of “first do no harm” is very real in healthcare and a generally good principle, but it can also be invoked easily to say no to anything you don’t want to do. Even if the thing that could be done doesn’t actually do any harm and could actually be beneficial to patients.

My prediction is the next 10 years, organizations are going to be defined by how an organization approaches this challenge. On the one hand we’ll have organizations that choose to use complexity as an excuse to not innovate. On the other hand we’ll have organizations that embrace hard, challenging, complex problems with solutions instead of excuses. It won’t be easy for these organizations, but it will absolutely differentiate them from their competitors.

I’m not suggesting that we should lower the standards of what’s acceptable to implement in healthcare. Instead, I’m suggesting that we make the effort required to explore new innovations and collaboratively work on solutions that handle the complexity of healthcare while providing incredible value to your organization and patients. After all, the very best things in life are challenging and difficult. Let’s embrace the challenging and difficult instead of using it as an excuse for inaction.

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.


  • “After all, the very best things in life are challenging and difficult” … but not necessarily complex. When things are made complex, things don’t work very well (think Windows vs Mac). And a carrot (incentive) always works better than a stick. This is why socialism always fails and capitalism always wins.

    The best example of complexity and its effects is to look at Washington. Through increasing complexity of our laws, the whole structure is on the verge of collapse. Citizens’ respect for government is at an all-time low, and even the bureaucrats can’t keep things running properly. A complete overhaul and way of thinking about government is required.

    One day (hopefully soon), Obamacare and third-party insurance will go away, health care will become much simpler, medicine will experience free market principles once again, and there will be no need for health care organizations to make up excuses.

  • Interesting comparison since I think Windows works better and is much less complex for me than a Mac. Perspective and experience really matter in these things.

    I do think the concept of why something is complex is interesting. It reminds me of the question I’ve often asked “Can a high quality EHR software be built in the current regulatory and reimbursement environment?”

    I think there are complex challenges that can’t just be overcome. However, I think people act like certain things are challenges not because they are actually a problem, but because they don’t want to dive deep enough into the problem to overcome it and do something amazing. Or because they have another agenda. etc.

  • I don’t believe you have a right to complain about we who consider EMR’s an oppressive device. Did you ever provide healthcare to someone? The addition of “more” work never seems to serve as an adequate answer to those who make money off “our” work. Have you seen the # of complaints from patients who suggest providers treat computers and not them.
    I could go on…there are some qualities of “computerization” that is helpful….yet i am still waiting for your industry to get it right!

  • Anthony,
    I think you’re missing the point of my post. I don’t mention EMR at all. In fact, I think solutions could very well come from outside of the EMR. The idea that I’m suggesting you work harder on something crappy is exactly the problem. We need more doctors and healthcare professionals involved to make sure that the blind of adoption of technology doesn’t make their life miserable like many EMR implementations have done. That does take additional work on the front end, but that’s saved massively on the backend as you benefit from the right implementation of the right technology.

    I have provided healthcare to someone and I’ve been alongside thousands of doctors, nurses, etc who do this work every day. Thanks for asking.

    It’s too bad more doctors didn’t shun the current technology and implementations that weren’t up to snuff. Sitting back and waiting for the industry to provide the right solution is going to get us more of the same.

    And just to be clear, I’m not complaining. You can and will choose whatever you want to choose. I’m just observing what I think is holding back the industry in many ways.

  • Your comment also makes me wonder if many organizations make excuses about why they’re not going to implement new technology that could benefit them, because they got burned on their EHR implementation. I think that’s probably true for many.

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