Why you shouldn’t do EHR integration

October 15, 2015
Niko Skievaski President & Co-Founder

EHR integration can improve a user’s workflow while eliminating errors caused by data entry. And the more deeply integrated you are, the more your users will depend on you, making your product sticky—a good place to be. For these reasons, EHR integration has been touted as a primary feature and badge of pride for software applications who have figured out how to pull it off. I talk to startups every day who are eager to earn this badge so they can appease their customers, scale their products, raise money, and ultimately make a dent in healthcare. But what’s surprising is that the groups who do these things most effectively start without EHR integration in scope.

Integration projects require coveted IT resources that are protected by an onslaught of more committee meetings, more prioritization lists, and more people you’ll need to woo. Most large health systems we talk to have a burgeoning backlog of these projects stretching out into 2017. You’ll be hard-pressed to get your app up the queue without the backing of physician leadership or mission-critical drivers. And let’s face it, they’ve been operating without your tech for decades. They can wait another year or two to get to you. The problem is, your runway may not be that long.

It’s often better to start with a non-integrated pilot at a smaller scale with early adopters. Use these results to build momentum towards an evidence-based integration project. I’ll share an example with one of our customers, Gauss Surgical. They’ve built an iPad app that allows a surgical technician to snap pics of bloody things (rags, sponges, reservoirs, etc.) then their algorithm determines how much blood a patient’s lost. (sweet, right?)

We can imagine a slick integrated workflow: see what patient is in the OR, pull in their blood results, send back the blood loss figure to the right field in the EHR. Without integration the user would have to manually look up the results then enter the blood loss number manually. For the amount of value their application adds, a few bits of data entry isn’t the end of the world—especially for the early adopters who are excited to use it. Gauss was able to get live quickly in a bunch of ORs without needing any involvement from IT. Only after the product proved its value, they began looking for ways to improve the workflow through integration. And subsequently, their integrated product is now more widly used, safer, and stickier.

It’s extremely rare for an application’s first implementation to involve EHR integration. Look for ways to simplify your product and deliver value without this as a necessity. If you think your customers will demand it, it’s good to have the peace of mind that Redox is in your back pocket. However, our fastest growing partners have found ways to bring EHR integration into their feature set later in the game—after they’ve proven that their product is worth it, even without integration.

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