We spent some time with members of the American Medical Association’s Marketing (Branding and Communications) and Medical Education leadership team back in December to brainstorm and discuss changing the name of our academic EMR/EHR for Medical and Allied Health Professionals.

The product has been the Teaching EMR since 2014–affectionately shortened to tEMR (pronounced Team-Ur). When I joined the team in June of 2015, I was asked to consider rebranding–it was on the leadership’s wish lists for the product long before they recruited me to commercialize their applied innovations. They shared the former names the team created before settling for the Teaching EMR (tEMR). Many were AWFUL. So bad. So, so bad.

Please read on. We do need your help below.

All In

I didn’t know what product(s) I would be managing when I accepted the offer to join the Regenstrief Institute (RI). The Assistant Director that recruited me to RI had done a better job of selling me on RI, the team, and the opportunity to “build great products to change healthcare” than the product itself. I was all in. On my first day, I learned that I was leading the tEMR team.

I will protect the innocent and save you from the terrible acronyms that the team had created. There was nothing elegant or simple about them. A few would take a Ph.D. to explain too–and that is why they never were considered for this application.

What is It?

A Teaching EMR is somewhat descriptive of the application that our team has built for schools. It speaks to the buyer of the software for their academic program and what type of web-based tool we have created. For educators, teaching with an EMR outside of the health system or simulation lab is not a common practice.

Had we not done anything to the EMR/EHR, the name is sufficient. It is an EMR/EHR for Teaching in the classroom inside Medical and Allied Health Professions education programs. Students are our users and Teachers are the typical buyer. Except, we have not stopped innovating. It is so much more now.

We took that EMR/EHR and have added learning modules and curriculum tools for educators to promote their learning activities with their student learners.

So, with fresh eyes in June of 2015, I suggested that we evolve the name to the Learning EMR (LEMR). Yes, I know about the primates from Madagascar. We could have easily changed it to Learning EHR (LEHR). Instead, we chose to move forward with the Teaching EMR name–which is where we are at today.

Inside Branding

A lot of people use the phrase “Inside Baseball” when they are describing what are the behind the scenes activities that you don’t often hear about unless you are an insider–and living it daily. Our team is transparent here at the Institute around what we are trying to do; Which is to impact health and health care better.

Our team inside of RI took another run at rebranding, by working with our Marketing Communications team over the summer in 2016. After months and even some logo mockups, the team landed on a new name. After testing the name (because “Yes.” you need to test a name before going all in on it more than circulating a few emails around the office or with friends and family), we discovered that it was not received well. Leadership liked it, but the intended audience did not outside of the four walls of our offices. It is on the scrap heap now.

Go Outside

As I mentioned above, we sought out some outside help to evaluate our name and give us some new options with the AMA in December. The team spent a day in Chicago. We learned that the AMA was going through there naming conventions for products and making them easier to understand and more consistent across their product portfolio. Our organization could probably benefit from a full evaluation, but for now, we were looking only at the Teaching EMR.

We learned through the brainstorming process the key themes and word associations around our product that we needed to have a primary term, maybe a secondary, and then the noun that describes what it is for everyone to understand.

Survey Says!?

Today, we are in the process of testing some of the name combinations. We would love your insight on what resonates with you for the product name.

The questions we are asking are between calling it EMR or EHR? Basic but essential, right? What noun would be best for describing the product–do we call it a platform, system, application, tool, environment, or something else? We are attempting to be practical.

If we can answer those questions soon, we will have a new name and you can be part of the decision-making process.

Or we could just stick with the Teaching EMR?

Always Be Clear (ABC)

I’ve heard it said that if you have to make a choice between being clear and being clever. Always be clear–that should be in the “ABC’s” of branding.

Please help us be clear. Here is the survey link for our potential product rebranding. Please hurry because the link goes down the first week of March.

Do me another small favor. The last question asks what Institution you are from currently. Please fill that out and maybe say “website” so we know how you found us.

Thank you in advance for your interest and participation!
Brian Stout
Regenstrief EHR Clinical Learning Platform
Regenstrief Institute – Center for Biomedical Informatics

About the Author

Brian Stout is a senior leader in marketing and product at the Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis. He is an authority on using EHRs in Medical and Allied Professions Education. He leads product for one of the nation’s most seasoned (since 1972) and innovative electronic health record platforms in the country. An advocate for learning and professional development,┬áhe is continuing his education with a Masters in Data Science from Indiana University in the Fall of 2017. You can follow him on Twitter @TeachingEMR and LinkedIn or other social platforms under ThinkStout.