Electronic Health (Medical) Records – Still not good enough

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Catching up following my two-month sabbatical, I came across an article today that really intrigues me. The article, The Great EHR Switch, appears in an April edition of HealthcareITNews. Despite the billions of dollars being handed out to physicians by the federal government to purchase and “meaningfully use” electronic health records, as well as some significant gains in the number of docs using EHRs in America, there are plenty of physicians who refuse to take the bait. This is particularly true among certain specialties like ophthalmology, dermatology, oncology, surgery, and especially it seems, pediatrics. More worrisome is the number of physicians who say they are dissatisfied with the EHR solutions they have already purchased—so dissatisfied that, according to a survey published by Black Book Rankings, as many as 23 percent of medical practices are considering trading up or switching to another solution altogether. Of those providers and practices considering a switch:


  • 80 percent say the solution does not meet the practice’s individual needs
  • 77 percent cited solution design as ill-fitted for their medical practice or specialty
  • 44 percent said vendors have been unresponsive to requests (i.e. don’t give a damn)

imageWhy all this dissatisfaction with EHRs? I provided some of my own insights in a January 15th post here on HealthBlog, Physician use of electronic health records – reading between the headlines. I explored why so many medical specialists and subspecialists are still on the fence about EHRs and why some docs are saying, “Hell no, we won’t go (ever)”. While I don’t think the “ever” group can maintain that position forever, nor would they be wise to do so, I do understand their pain.

What is missing from so many of today’s solutions? If you ask that question to industry pundit and noted Harvard Professor and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CIO, Dr. John Halamka, he would say that physicians want a “cloud hosted, standards-based, web-centric, mobile enabled, ambulatory and inpatient, analytics backed, personal health record enabled, and care managed focused” solution. I would add to that the words “affordable” and “user-friendly”.

While great strides have been made in the development of electronic medical record/electronic health record imagesolutions, there is much that still needs to be done. At Microsoft we are focused on working with partners, large and small, who understand the significance and importance of building more contemporary, user-friendly EMR solutions that will meet the criteria outlined by Dr. Halmaka. There is a gigantic opportunity for developers, guided by knowledgeable clinicians, to design solutions that will meet the unique needs of each and every medical specialty yet maintain a standards-based level of interoperability, manageability, privacy and security that the industry needs. Savvy developers are discovering that Windows 8, with an amazing ecosystem of devices, partners and solutions surrounding it, is an excellent platform for such development.

For those who think the EMR race is over, think again. The next few years will bring innovations at an unparalleled pace. I see profound evidence of this in the devices sitting on my desk and the services and solutions I use every day here at Microsoft.

Bill Crounse, MD      Senior Director, Worldwide Health           Microsoft

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