Finally, an EMR worthy of a T-shirt

Those who are regular readers know I’ve commented on more than one occasion that you never see anyone at the HIMSS convention walking around wearing a T-shirt imprinted with the slogan, “I love my EPIC”, or one stating, “McKesson forever”–unless they were talking about the implementation plan.

Today, my perspective changed–I’m going to start selling T-shirts printed with the phrase, “SRS-Soft Rocks my Docs.”

You may ask, ‘Who is SRSSoft’?  Fair question.  I could not have given an adequate response to that question prior to today.

I spent some time with them, ran their demo–I played doctor but they stopped me before I was able to insert a chest tube.  I ran the demo.  Why is that important?  It went like this.

“So, if you were a doctor, what would you do?”

With enthusiastic anticipation, I searched for my scalpel–that wasn’t what he meant.  “I’d see who my next patient is.”

“Do it.”  (Mind you, all of what I am doing happens on one screen faster than a sneeze.)  I clicked the schedule and up popped all the patient’s information.


“I’d probably want to review their chart.”

“Do it.”  (Don’t try this at home unless you are a devotee of Scrubs or other medical training.

Same screen, up pops the chart.


I click on the notes from their last visit, compare their labs by pulling up a comparison chart–new versus old; scan the X-RAY, and review their list of medications.  I did this all on one page and figured out in less time than it took you to read this.  We did the demo using two screens.  That way, if I am describing what I am seeing to the patient on their X-RAY, instead of holding the film up at the ceiling and hoping my patient understand what I am talking about, I point to it with my mouse and let the patient see it one their screen.

Tomorrow I was going to issue an EHR RFP for a small clinic.  Not any more.  No point in having them pay me to hunt down a solution when I’ve already found one.  Did I mention you can also get it with a world-class practice management system?

So what makes me think this EMR can handle a practice size of up to a few hundred doctors?  Let me try to summarize its benefits with the following.  If we separate healthcare into two arenas–the business of healthcare (the business side) and the healthcare business (the clinical side)–this EMR is so well designed, it makes the mundane business tasks almost invisible to the doctor.  Instead of spending twenty percent of each day moving charts, filling out forms, sending faxes, dictating and transcribing notes, the clinical team can either spend more time with their patients or see more patients.

Now, let me tell you about their secret sauce, part of what makes it so special.  You are going to think I’ve lost my mind when you read this.

One of the first questions most doctors are going to ask a vendor is whether or not the system is certified.  (Do not repeat this to anyone–that is why I am writing in parentheses–this system is not certified.  They have no plans to get it certified.)  Why?  Because certification is as relevant to the value of an EMR as agriculture is to bull fighting.  Certification will not improve care, will not enhance the doctor patient relationship, it will not improve the patient experience, it will not increase productivity.  Certification does one thing.  It enables you to get a check provided that your EMR implementation does not fail, provided that you pass the Meaningful Use audit, and provided you are willing to upgrade your existing system to your vendor’s new and improved certifiable version.  That certifiably makes little to no business sense.

Anyway, if you want a system that makes the stuff you hate doing go away, take a look at this.

I’ve also written about way hospital EHRs fail.  A big reason for their failure is the drop in productivity they experience, and a lack of acceptance from the doctors.  Sort of makes me wonder if they could use this tool as a front-end for those big pricey EHRs.

Me, I printing T-shirts.  PayPal accepted.

Do you need to fire Ferguson?

It may be time to fire Ferguson.

I was listening to Imus the other day as he was interviewing the famous promoter, Jerry Weintraub.  The promoter relayed a story about one of his clients, John Denver.  Mr. Denver was constantly complaining about a number of things on one of his European tours, and he demanded the promoter come speak with him.  Here’s a replay of the conversation.

“Yes. Well, he was in Europe, and he was on tour. And everything was wrong. He hated everything. He hated the venues. He hated – the airplanes were no good. The sound systems were no good. Everything was no good. And he said to me, you know, I’m going to fire you; everything is wrong here. I said, yeah, I know, I know.

I sat down with him; I said, John, everything is going to be fine. He said, why? Why? I said, because I fired Ferguson. He said, why did you fire Ferguson? Why? What does firing him – going to do? I said, he’s been responsible for all the things that you’re troubled by: the hotels, the sound system, the venues, da, da, da, da. And he said, it’s going to be OK now? I said, yes, I’m putting other people in. Great.

And that evening, Denver and I went out to have something to eat. At dinner, I said to him, John, you know, I feel really terrible about firing Ferguson. He said, why? I said, because it’s not like you and it’s not like me. And John Denver said to me, I agree with you; it’s not like us. What can we do to help the guy? It’s really not like me. I got to help him. I said, I’ll put him in another area in the company. He’ll be fine. We’ll take good care of him. He said, that’s great, I feel so much better. Of course, there never was a Ferguson.”

Sometimes you need to shake things up a bit.  Do you need to fire Ferguson?

saintPaul M. Roemer
Chief Imaginist, Healthcare IT Strategy

1475 Luna Drive, Downingtown, PA 19335
+1 (484) 885-6942

EHR–where do you place the emphasis?

You said I stole the money. Sometimes it all depends on what you emphasize. For example, say the sentence aloud to a friend, and each time place the emphasis on a new word. You said I stole the money. You said I stole the money. You said I stole the money. You said I stole the money. You said I stole the money. The meaning changes as you change your emphasis. You said I stole the money? You can even change it so that it reads like a question.

The same is true with providers and the level of success a firm has working with EHR. Where is your emphasis? If you believe there is a correlation between emphasis and spending, I bet we can prove your firm’s is much more closely aligned to technology than it is to process. What does technology address? Let’s list how deploying technology makes your firm better, or does it?  Millions followed by millions more. Redesign the patient portal.  Add EHR. Mine the data—heck, strip mine it. Show me the ROI. Isn’t that a lot of money to spend without a corresponding business justification?

The technology that is tossed at the problem reminds me of the scene from the “Wizard of Oz” when the Wizard instructs Dorothy and the others, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” When Toto pulls the curtain aside, we see a nibblet—I love that word—of a man standing in front of a technological marvel. What’s he doing? He’s trying to make an impression with smoke and mirrors, and he’s hoping nobody notices that the Great Oz is a phony, that his technology brings nothing to help them complete their mission.

From whose budget do these technology dollars usually come? IT. From the office of the CIO. What did you get for those millions?  Just asking.

Part of the problem with doing something worth doing on the EHR front is that it requires something you can’t touch, there’s no brochure for it, and you can’t plug it in. It’s process. It requires soft skills and the courage to change your firm’s emphasis. They won’t like doing it, but they will love the results.

saint Paul M. Roemer
Chief Imaginist, Healthcare IT Strategy

1475 Luna Drive, Downingtown, PA 19335
+1 (484) 885-6942

My profiles: LinkedInWordPressTwitterMeetupBlog RSS
Contact me: Google Talk/paulroemer Skype/paulroemer Google Wave/paulroemer


I rarely write on Sunday, but with my wife and the kids in Miami for the month while I serve as the EHR Czar, I thought I would share a few thoughts with you.

I went to a reception a few nights ago with some healthcare executives in the Philly area.  It was one of those events whereby the caterer thought the chi-chi crowd would do back-flips over canapés of fava beans stuffed with cheese made from the breast milk of yaks.  One of those events where you can’t complain without being as obvious as someone walking the streets of Tehran wearing a Star of David T-shirt.

Sometimes  you get an ah-ha about life which is so profound it must be shared with friends.  I got one of those today while making a breakfast of smoked salmon, capers, and New York bagels.  I retrieved a clean plate from the dishwasher.  I knew when I finished breakfast I would have to empty the dishwasher–a task that always irks me.  The lights brightened, the sky opened, and I learned something most consultants would try to kiss their elbows to understand.

We have two dishwashers–machines, not people.  Naturally, that cuts down on the number of times we have to empty the dishwasher.  Mind you, my discovery only works for people whose spouse is out T town and for homes who have two dishwashers.  Here’s the deal.  Wash the dishes in one dishwasher.  Sooner or later you get hungry.  You think about going to the cabinet to grab a plate and the it occurs to you that you already have a clean plate in the dishwasher; along with a drinking glass, and utensils.  Why not use them?  And after dining–and this is the revelation–place the newly soiled dishes in the other dishwasher.  Guys, this re-engineering of the traditional kitchen processes eliminates the need to ever empty the dishwasher.  Everything in the dishwasher is caught in an infinite loop, eliminating the need for kitchen cabinets.

This new process brought to mind an episode of ‘Happy Days’ when The Fonz explains to Ritchie how bachelors make a salad to conserve wasting time on extraneous business processes.  The Fonz told Ritchie to hold the head of lettuce above the sink and pour salad dressing on the lettuce, thereby eliminating the need for a plate.

Where were we?  That is unplanned an alliteration.  Given that, how do I make this worth your time?

Permit me to address the C-suite.  Does it seem to you that those people in your firm are paid for working hard, or for delivering results?  I think they are paid for working hard, for looking like they are working hard, for doing the things people in their esteemed position ought to be doing.

They are busy.  Why?  Because those who are not perceived as being busy are fired.

Who at your firm is delivering results?  Who is defining what the results needs to be?

Someone needs to define the ah-ha moments for your organization.  Somebody needs to take charge, to know that it is possible not to unload the dishwasher, to know that there is no value in stuffing the fava beans with the cheese.

saint Paul M. Roemer
Chief Imaginist, Healthcare IT Strategy

1475 Luna Drive, Downingtown, PA 19335
+1 (484) 885-6942

My profiles: LinkedInWordPressTwitterMeetupBlog RSS
Contact me: Google Talk/paulroemer Skype/paulroemer Google Wave/paulroemer

EHR: What bugs you about it?

This is the time of year in the east when cinerescent caterpillar nests hang thickly from the trees, peppered tufts of cotton candy.  During these long, flavorless August days, the sky is a similar achromatic color.  My nine-year-old is concerned because I told her we are having caterpillar soup for dinner tonight—watch out for the crunchy bits.  Once again, it seems I’ve gotten off message.

I wonder how much of the difficulty surrounding EHR has to do with getting off message, much like we seem to have done with the reform discussion.  What difficulties?  Got time?  You can name more of them than can I.

What is off message?  It’s that the day-to-day tactics of implementing EHR office by office, and hospital by hospital have overshadowed the strategy, have displaced the business driver behind the mandate.  The focus became internal, not national.  Bits and bytes have overshadowed charts.

I doubt few, if any, can articulate a believable explanation of how a few years from now your medical records will accurately and expeditiously be delivered from where you live to the lone clinic on Main Street, Small Town, USA, to the nurse practitioner who at midnight is giving you an EKG.

It’s that fact, that we are not able to define how we get from A to B, let alone do so with multitudes of A’s and B’s, that to me suggests we are building something of which we have little comfort will do what we set out for it do.

Clearly, there are hundreds if not thousands of very talented and dedicated professionals focused on finding a solution.  However, it seems their efforts remain handcuffed by hundreds of competing products, no well-defined overriding set of requirements that would enable anyone to say with certainty, “Yes, that is it.  That captures what we need to do.  When we have done that, we are done.”

Until that time, I think we all need to be concerned about the crunchy bits.

saintPaul M. Roemer
Chief Imaginist, Healthcare IT Strategy

1475 Luna Drive, Downingtown, PA 19335
+1 (484) 885-6942

What did you budget for EHR?

Okay, so today was going to be one of those days when I wasn’t going to allow myself to be stupified–at least no more than was really required.

Then it sneaks up smack dab in the middle of a call, and from what I’ve been able to determine, people find it annoying if you burst out laughing on the call.  (They are not annoyed at all if you simply write about them provided they don’t read it.)

What got me going is this statement, “We’ve budgeted $X for EHR.”

Really?  You did this all by yourself?

The facts as I understood them are as follows:

  • Never bought an EHR
  • Don’t know how big they are, if they are blue or green, come gift-wrapped, or if you need two people to carry it
  • No input from vendors about EHR
  • no discussions with others abot what an EHR system costs

So, with absolutely no information how does one determine how much they need to spend?  This is not like going to the supermarket for a gallon of Soy Milk–not that anyone would want to do that.

saint Paul M. Roemer
Chief Imaginist, Healthcare IT Strategy

1475 Luna Drive, Downingtown, PA 19335
+1 (484) 885-6942

My profiles: LinkedInWordPressTwitterMeetupBlog RSS
Contact me: Google Talk/paulroemer Skype/paulroemer Google Wave/paulroemer

Are hospitals making the the same mistake as BP?

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “To talk of many things: Of shoes and ships and sealing-wax, of cabbages and kings—…

A lot of the strategic issues in healthcare are not easily explained.  One issue can be explained to a fifth-grader.  So, get your crayons out and follow along.

Fifty-some days and counting.  Say it with me—BP.  In many respects healthcare’s approach to social media is analogous to BP’s—the major difference is that neither the payors, pharma, nor the providers has yet to wipe out an entire geography—but the week is not over yet.

BP is offering an MBA in how not to use social media.  Nobody is queuing up on Amazon to buy the book, “BP’s ten pointers on crisis management.”

The funny thing about disasters is being able to schedule them in Outlook.  There are no pop-ups fifteen minutes before the big bang reminding you to get ready—“pipeline blows up in 15 minutes.”

We both know, sooner or later you will have one.  While yours may not crater the shrimping industry, it may be enough to do some serious damage to your business.  Most hospitals have a risk management group.  BP has one.  The mission statement of risk management is to assess and mitigate risks.

BP’s group probably had a plan in place to address a number of risks—risks like OPEC, an expansive war in the middle east, a tanker collision.  Apparently, they overlooked the risk of having a blowout a mile under the ocean.  Who’da thunk it?

If you Google “oil spill” there are fifty million hits.  Add “BP” to the search and the results narrow to a mere forty million.  That toothpaste is never going back in the tube.  People who can’t find the Gulf of Mexico on a map know that BP ruined it.  Thirty years from now people will still know the name of the firm that poisoned the Gulf, destroyed businesses, ruined vacations, made people sick, and cratered home sales along hundreds of miles of shoreline.

No matter what type of disaster BP could have faced, they demonstrated they were not prepared.  Even if it is proven that the disaster was not BP’s fault, it is too late to change their ownership of it.  Nobody is ever going to delete those forty million Google pieces linking BP to failure.  If BP hired a thousand workers whose only job was to try to counter each piece of negative media it would take them decades.

What is the one word to describe BP’s social media strategy?  LATE.

There is no useful social media strategy worth anything that begins after a disaster, none worth anything that begins after a misstep, after a faux pas. defines a faux pas as a social error—a boo-boo.

Unlike Meaningful Use, a good social media strategy can have an almost infinite ROI.  A good social media strategy, in addition to adding revenues and capturing patients, can help assuage the bleeding.  A good social media strategy played out in advance creates allies.

Let us look at this from the perspective of large healthcare providers.  What types of unfavorable events could negatively affect a hospital?

  • A medical disaster
  • Fraud
  • Medical errors
  • Reform
  • Scandal
  • Medical malpractice
  • Natural disasters
  • A data breech

While all negative events are not the same, many aspects of a good social media strategy apply regardless of the type of problem.

There are two major components of a good healthcare social media strategy:

  1. It should be pro-active.  Your social media strategy should be building goodwill each day.  Google the name of your hospital and see how many hits you get.  Next, see how many thousands of those hits are attributable to people outside your organization—too many to count.  You are already late.  People are already posting videos and writing about you.
  2. It should be reactive.  Make sure your “What are we going to do now?” account has a positive balance.  At the very least make sure you can push a button and unleash a plague of social media “I feel your pain” initiatives.

I’d wager a hospital could develop an outstanding social media strategy for less than one-tenth of what it pays in legal fees.

saint Paul M. Roemer
Chief Imaginist, Healthcare IT Strategy

1475 Luna Drive, Downingtown, PA 19335
+1 (484) 885-6942

My profiles: LinkedInWordPressTwitterMeetupBlog RSS
Contact me: Google Talk/paulroemer Skype/paulroemer Google Wave/paulroemer