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May 18 2011   9:03AM GMT

EHR adoption: It’s like renting a car

Posted by: Jenny Laurello
EHR, EHR functionality, EHR usability, electronic health records

Guest post by: Wendy Whittington, MD, MMM, Chief Medical Officer, Anthelio Healthcare Solutions, Inc.

While traveling to a city in Florida on vacation recently, my fellow traveler and I picked up our rental car at the airport. We were pleasantly surprised when our “compact” turned out to be a Chevy “Crossover.”  It had great leg room, nice capacity for luggage and even good cup-holders.  What it didn’t have was cruise control.  I asked my companion how anyone could rent a car that didn’t have cruise control and why it should be illegal to do so without telling us in advance!  Were my complaints reasonable?   Probably not.  But the fact remains that my expectations were not met.

Parallels exist between what physicians want from new technology and what we all want from a rental car.  As you read through this analogy, think about all of the car commercials you’ve seen on TV.  The marketers think they know what Americans want and this is clearly reflected in their ads. What physicians want is not so different.


Rental Car


Accessibility and reliability Pick-up without hassle and not break down (OJ running through the airport…) Access from anyway and always be there
Autonomy Mobility and driving the way we want  (sports car on closed course…) System should do what the physician wants, not the other way around
Intuitive OK, do you really want to read the manual in the glove box to figure out how to turn the wipers on…? No matter which EHR the physicians uses, the 25 most common tasks should be intuitive.
Appropriate level of decision support Some people love GPS systems and some people hate the nagging! Most physicians love good suggestions from the system, but constant alerts and reminders are just noise.

No amount of logic from my companion changed my emotions about that rental car, just as no amount of logic from IT is going to change what the physicians expect of the EHR. 

Setting appropriate expectations and meeting them is all about understanding the problem (and asking questions), testing the systems, reporting out, correcting the issues, maintaining the improvements and then doing it all over again.  These are the simple principles of quality management that we’ve known for a long time.   The car companies know it. 

Please visit Anthelio Healthcare Solutions Inc. for more information on Dr. Whittington and the Anthelio blog.   

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