Who Will Rescue Healthcare and Solve The EMR Debacle? We Need Another Steve Jobs

Jason Ruben

Jason Ruben , MD

Scribe Program Director

Published April 25, 2012

Today we announce the third most popular blog of 2012. We congratulate Jason Ruben, MD.

Steve Jobs knew that the key to Apple’s success was simplicity.

Apple products are painstakingly designed for simplicity. Updated Apple products are always better than their predecessor. If you question this, visit an Apple store at the release of the next iPhone or iPad.

Quite the opposite is true in the EMR-healthcare arena. The result: hospital executives are pressured to buy systems that “fit” into their existing IT platform regardless of physician usability. My intention is not to pile-onto the existing discussions about the 15-30% drop in productivity when EMRs are implemented. Unfortunately, I can attest to those numbers within our own organization (thus, the development of the scribe program).

The merits of the HITECH Act, the EHR Federal Mandate, and The Stimulus Package have been greatly discussed. I could argue that EMRs do not provide better patient care.

I want to know who will save physicians, hospitals and patients from the existing, pathetic breed of EMRs available today?

If the deep pockets of Google failed—What’s next?

Who will be the Steve Jobs of the electronic medical record era? Will Allscripts, Cerner or Epic really revolutionize the healthcare industry?

I doubt it.

We need an innovator who can develop a disruptive technology in EMRs that:

1. Is usable — like the iPod.

2. Is universally portable and intuitive from one setting to the next—like the iPad.

3. Is reliable, well designed and not cost prohibitive to implement—like the operating systems on Mac computers.

This innovator will, by default, play a pivotal role in saving our country’s healthcare industry and bend the cost curve in the correct direction.

Yes, it will take more than the perfect EMR system to rescue our healthcare system but I’m optimistic. Dr. Atul Gawande states, “Where people in medicine combine their talents and efforts to design organized service to patients, extraordinary change can result.”

But until this occurs, EMRs won’t decrease healthcare costs. Costs will simply shift.

One study suggests physicians are ordering more tests because of EMR implementation.

We are in the midst of a growth spurt of, as Jobs would say: “crappy” and poorly thought out products.

In the current geopolitical atmosphere, software vendors feel compelled to rush their products to the market space—regardless of how poorly designed they might be. With healthcare reform and the EHR Federal Mandate deadline looming in the near future—they’d be crazy not to. But at whose expense?

Google-health failed because they didn’t apply their resources in the right place.

As Jobs said, "You‘ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology - not the other way around."

PLEASE, software vendors, think of physicians as your customer. Applying this philosophy, Jobs created the most valuable company in the world.

Will your EMR system revolutionize healthcare the way Apple revolutionized the PC and music industry? If not, chances are I’ll have job security as scribe program director for quite some time.

[Image credit: "Steve Jobs Headshot 2010-CROP" by Matthew Yohe licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0]

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