TECHNOLGY: Too much of a good thing?

Walking the floor at the TEPR show this week brought home the wonders
of electronic medical records. The show had a multitude of
presentations on EMR use, but more than 35 years after the first EMRs
were developed we’re still early in the adoption cycle. Most
presentations were about fairly small-scale case studies. But despite
the exit of hundreds of firms from the EMR and practice management
market, and the slow emergence of several dominant players, there are
still plenty of new entrepreneurial companies with booths — and not
all small ones — out on the exhibit floor. Many of these companies
have new EMR technology that, while it may be more advanced, doesn’t
look that dissimilar to those on show a few years back.  What they lack
is a customer base. But as the legacy players in practice management
and small hospital IT systems have shown, in health care getting into
the market is relatively cheap and you don’t need that big a customer
base to anchor a business.

One of the major problems in physician
adoption of technology is the lack of familiarity with a few trusted
brands, and the insistence on doing everything differently than the
practice or hospital down the street. The sheer number of vendors
willing to support that demand for "doing it different", including
those based on software from physicians who claimed that "what was on
the market didn’t meet their needs", means that we’re a long way from
getting to the status of other industries where everyone is comfortable
with using a few widely known applications.  This might be a case where
we have just too much good old American ingenuity.

Having said that, I saw some interesting products and there are some interesting new developments that I’ll comment on later….

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