SMART platform 'promising' for EHRs

The Substitutable Medical Applications, Reusable Technologies (SMART) platform appears to be a "promising approach" to improve electronic health records now that phase one of the project has been completed, according to its developers.

The creators report this week in the Journal of American Medical Informatics Association that unlike current proprietary EHR systems, the SMART platform operates as a standard base platform to which users can add or subtract modular third-party applications, similar to the methodology used by iPhone or Android.

The researchers noted that in just 14 months, they have developed "containers"--such as EHRs and health information exchanges and charter applications--to showcase the system's capability.

"With the cost of switching kept low, the platform enables a physician using an EHR, a Chief Information Officer running a hospital IT infrastructure, or a patient using a personally controlled health record (PCHR) to readily discard an underperforming app and install a better one. Competition on quality, cost, and usability is enabled, and the pace of innovation increases," the developers said.

The SMART project, funded by a grant from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, originated in 2009.

The researchers pointed out that now that phase one is complete, decisions must be made as to whether the most effective method to further disseminate the platform is through exiting EHR vendors, HIEs, or new entrants into the market. They're also experimenting with different ways to deploy the applications.

The lack of standardization and innovation in the EHR industry has long been recognized as a barrier to interoperability and impeding their functionality. Perhaps this development will spur the industry to make more user-friendly systems.

To learn more:
- read the study
- here's information about SMART's origins