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Intelligent Healthcare Information Integration 5/8/10

May 8, 2010 News 1 Comment

EHRs and Molecular Gastronomy

I like cooking, though I’m no chef. Something has always fascinated me about chemistry, though I’m certainly no chemist. I’ve been a gadgety, geek freak who loves his PCs pretty much since birth, but I’m definitely no computer engineering or programming guru. But, watching Chef José Andrés whirl his amazing gastronomical wand on 60 Minutes recently led me to realize that my somewhat diverse fascinations have a heretofore unrecognized common, sort of covalent, bond.

In cooking, one of the most important features is the presentation. The Gestalt beauty, the interplay of colors, the mingling of aromas, and the artist’s eye for movement in the interplay of textures all combine to build an experiential expectation for the taste sensation which is to come.

Molecular gastronomy throws an understanding of chemistry into sauce pan, examining the “transformation of ingredients, as well as the social, artistic and technical components of culinary and gastronomic phenomena in general,” per Wikipedia. In the hands of Chef Andrés, it turns eating into romance.

As I droolingly watched Anderson Cooper prepare to delight in a “bagel with lox” which appeared more like a mini-ice cream cone made of a crêpe “bagel,” cream cheese “ice cream,” and (my personal all-time favorite sushi ingredient) salmon roe “lox,” it occurred to me that the next big thing for HIT might just be an incorporation of a similar approach for EHR development, sort of an EHR molecular gastronomy.

I mean, good Lord, it’s been decades now since folks started to apply technology to the art of healthcare information management. If you look around at the hundreds of EMR and EHR solutions out there, you’ll see oodles of great ideas and clever ways to address certain elements of the HIT dilemma. The “molecular” underpinnings of EMRs are becoming clear. The problem remains that these ingenious solutions exist in disparate products. None of them have the all-in-one, melt-in-your-mouth, taste explosion phenomenon of a José Andrés creation. I think I now know why.

Pretty much across the board, EMRs and EHRs have all taken the TV dinner approach: you got your meat, your potatoes, your veggie, your sliver of cornbread all plastic-wrapped into one “complete meal,” if you want to call it such. It’s edible, but…

I’m starting to think the trend toward all-inclusive, “integrated” solutions may have been as deceptively misleading as the “amazing convenience” of the TV dinner.

How about we start creating José Andrés-style culinary laboratory mini-bars (development centers) where those creative “chefs” (HIT developers and programmers) can concoct their clever individual bitefuls of component EHR “dishes” (molecular apps) and let the provider “gourmets and gourmands” (end users) pick and choose the “taste sensations” (tools) which best enthrall our “taste buds” (practice needs)?

The new Helios platform by Eclipsys is a step toward this molecular EMR diner. Personally, I’d like to see the trend continue. I’m anxious to taste more molecular EHR gastronomics.

From the trenches…

“Anybody can make you enjoy the first bite of a dish, but only a real chef can make you enjoy the last.” – François de la Rochefoucauld

Dr. Gregg Alexander, a grunt in the trenches pediatrician, directs the “Pediatric Office of the Future” exhibit for the American Academy of Pediatrics and is a member of the Professional Advisory Council for ModernMedicine.com. More of his blather…er, writings…can be found at his blog, practice web site or directly from doc@madisonpediatric.com.

Comments 1
  • I agree. I published this article 5 years ago entitled “Environments for innovation in healthcare information technology”: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16266034. It focused on leveraging EHR APIs as you mention and also the creativity and academic rigor of our nation’s academic clinical informatics programs.

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