The Ethical Dilemma of EMR Software

Updated: April 18, 2010

The EMR (Electronic Medical Records) market, a child of the world of technology but joined at the hip to medicine, has brought together two different views or connotations of ethics and professionalism. On the one hand the technology vendor plays in the rough and tumble world of high technology where the mantra is to sell anything at any cost because the customer won't know what they've bought.

On the other hand, the generally technically naive medical world is unprepared for this kind of interaction. Oh yes, they fight with insurance plans and hospital administrators. But in no way does that prepare the medical world for the business and sales tactics of high technology vendors.

To solve this dilemma, either by design or by accident, vendors have incorporated a Chief Medical Officer (CMO) whose role is to bridge the perception gap between vendor and medical customer. With a medical background and a medical persona, concerns between the vendor and medical customer are allayed.

But medical angst persists. Because the EMR vendor is pursuing a "top down" sell, they bypass the medical leadership and pitch the C-level administrative staff. The medical input is usually an afterthought and the medical angst continues.

Countering the medical angst and overcoming the perception of "business ethics" being ugly will not be easy. If there be a truth in medicine, it is the gaining and loss of trust. Trust is not a trivial matter that can be bandied about just for a sale.

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