A follow up to the Times blog post earlier…

EMRs are absolutely amazing applications that solve one problem – billing insurance companies. They don’t help a doctor practice better. They don’t help a doctor make more money. In fact, most doctors who use EMRs didn’t invest their own money in them because they don’t help individual doctors make more money. They were “given” them by their employer institutions and told to use them because it would make their employer money through upcoding, while at the same time, make their job more miserable.

I used to hate EMRs until I realized that doctors complain because they’re expecting EMRs to do a job they weren’t created to do. We’re all used to technology making our lives easier. And docs expect EMRs to do the same – make their jobs easier and more productive with better communication and access to more information that should help them make better decisions at the point of artful decision making.

If doctors would just kick back and stop complaining and finally accept what EMRs were born to do – be tedious billing engines that satisfy the millions of different rules from the hundreds of various insurance companies – maybe they’d stop having such animosity toward these “technologies.” The problem is, the modern doctor is used to working with tools that are enjoyable and benefit them directly, like Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, etc…and now they’re forced to use horrible interfaces with functionality that’s meant to maximize someone else’s profits.

A whole new class of medical web apps should be developed that help doctors do their jobs better. However, doctors don’t get paid to do our jobs WELL, we get paid to do our jobs THE MOST. And the more volume we crank out, the more we get paid. Therefore, the only scenario where this new class of medical application could thrive is the cash paying market where our patient customers actually pay us for customer service and quality. I hope this happens soon, but I fear the lobbying power of the most profitable and fastest growing industry in America, Health Care, will stifle almost all innovation until it implodes on itself and they go running to the federal government, Auto Industry style, begging for a bailout.