Jabba the Hutt EHRs Are Alive And Well

If you follow @ehrandhit on Twitter, then you might have noticed that we’ve set it up to tweet out links to articles from Healthcare Scene’s database of 11,000+ blog posts. Sometimes I see these tweets and I remember amazing posts like the one I saw today about Jabba the Hutt EMR.

Here’s the concept of the Jabba the Hutt EMR as I described it back in 2011:

Many long time readers of EMR and HIPAA will know I like to call big, bulky, old EMR software systems, Jabba the Hutt EMR. I think comparing these old legacy EMR software to Jabba the Hutt is a great comparison. For those that don’t know Star Wars that well (and I’m no expert), Jabba the Hutt was a very powerful figure. Although, over time he’d grown so big that he wasn’t very nimble (to say the least). So, despite his power and prestige, there was little to admire about him.

Does that sound a bit like some legacy EMR software? They’re big and powerful figures in the industry. However, their software has grown to the point that it’s clunky and not very nimble. Getting something changed on it is difficult and it’s built on a platform that makes it hard to add new features. Thus, they are Jabba the Hutt EMR.

I love that I had “long time readers” in 2011, but I digress. Does this still sound like a lot of the EHR vendors out there? The cynic might suggest it’s every EHR vendor. Good thing I’m not cynical.

In that post I went on to list things that might be characteristics you could look for to identify the Jabba the Hutt EMR software. It has some good ones, but I think it’s time to update the list. Here’s an updated list that you might find beneficial (and a little entertaining).

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EHR if…
you’re part of every interoperability organization, but not actually interoperable.

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EHR if…
it costs as much for consultants to implement your software as your software.

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EHR if…
you hard coded 16 RXNorm codes to pass certification.

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EHR if…
you EHR certification is your EHR innovation plan.

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EHR if…
your programmers have never spent time in a clinic or hospital observing users.

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EHR if…
you’re afraid to talk to the media.

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EHR if…
your patient portal is your patient engagement strategy.

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EHR if…
HL7 and FHIR are your API strategy.

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EHR if…
you put AI and machine learning in a press release after implementing basic slicing and dicing analytics.

As I said in 2011, the more of these your EHR has, the more likely they’re a Jabba the Hutt EHR. I’m sure many of you could add to the list. Please do so in the comments.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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.


  • Funny! Sad but true. But the one on “your programmers have never spent time in a clinic or hospital observing users” is just way off. With all due respect to “programmers,” (John’s label, not mine) most software developers I know – and I know a lot of them over the past few decades – lack the business and soft skills to take such a position.

    And I’m sure that this comment of mine won’t earn me any endearment. But it’s a tried and true fact: it takes more than a hard core developer to ‘program’ great software. There are many software developers who can wear multiple hats – just not many.

    In fact, I believe a lot of the crap software that healthcare has to live with nowadays is the product of an attitude evolving about 10-15 years ago that business analysts and product managers were useless and just got in the way.

  • Steve,
    You make a good point about business analysts and product managers. They should play a key role in the process as well. Many developers aren’t good at being business analysts/product managers. I wasn’t trying to say that programmers should replace them.

    However, I still think programmers should spend time with the users. That was my point as opposed to having them replace the other people. It’s amazing how the programmer can see problems that many analysts and product managers can’t see because of their understanding of how the program is written. Plus, they can often fix things quickly or design them better in the future when something similar comes up on a future project.

    I’d also add that programmers should spend time with users to help them gain some empathy and understanding for the challenges that their users face. It’s a very valuable thing. There might be a few exceptions for very specific programmers, but the majority of them would benefit and create better products if they spent some time with their end users and even…gasp…patients.

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