What if EHRs Were Designed like iPhones?

September 23, 2014
Patrick Watterson, PA-C

Imagine an EHR that is put together to work, not just to meet meaningful use (or as I like to say, meaningless) regulations.

Whether you are an Apple fan or not ("Droid Heads"), you have to admire Apple's design. You can hand an iPhone to a 3 year old and the child will quickly understand swipe, pinch, etc. Somehow, because of the way the phone is designed, we intuitively know how to do what we need to do. Wouldn't it be nice if that design approach was brought to EHRs?

Imagine an EHR that is put together to work, not just to meet meaningful use (or as I like to say, meaningless) regulations.

If I'm seeing a diabetic patient for a follow up, why do I have to go looking for the last HgbA1c or lipids? An intuitive EHR would already have those results pulled up and in front of me before I walk in to see the patient. It would also remind me t

hat the patient is due for his annual eye exam or microalbumin. If a refill was running out, a pop up window would alert me. If the patient recently turned 50, I would receive a colonoscopy alert.

Sure some EHR programs do these functions, but not one EHR that does all of them well. Most only have these options when you are in the patient's chart, or they require someone to run a report from the database. Intuitive programming would automate these processes.

When the government decided to invests millions in the HITECH Act, its intent was to spur EHR adoption but, as often happens, we ended up with a tool to meet government regulations and not to make life better for our patients.

While many EHR companies have made millions from this, where are the real innovators? Where is the Steve Jobs of EHRs?

Don't get me wrong, I am a fan of the potential of EHRs, but the current programs lack the forward-thinking abilities that we need to see in the future. We are stuck using old BlackBerrys when we really should be using Siri or even a Droid.