It is a principle made famous by the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Form follows function. Wright looked at the two-story farm houses poking out from the flat Midwestern landscape like loopy mushrooms. Dumb. He thought, hey, a house on a flat landscape should be low, hug the ground, hence the precursors of the modern ranch-style house. He also chucked the cupolas and all the decorative gingerbread that we associate with Victorian architecture. Think of the lean, clean furniture made by the Shakers or that made and marketed by Scandinavians. A chair is something to sit on, not pretend it resembles a chair that once cradled Charlemagne's butt.

Form follows function. What does this have to do with EMR? A lot.
We are all familiar with the evolution of the microwave. The early models had a timer and some way to set different levels of power. Now, carried away with their ability to make something look impressive because it is complicated, designers have added crazed menus that, presumably, would tell the user how to properly cook the tail of a Komodo dragon. That’s if anybody is interested.

Same with a cellular phone. The first cell phones were designed for calling. Cameras were added. Then more and more, accessing the web and the rest of it. In the end, the question is how much cell phone do you really need?

The best EMR should do everything you want in a way that is understandable from the cranky old doc who grew up using paper forms and charts to the most computer wary staff member. That is, form follows function.

Clarity, clarity, clarity. Form follows function. Ease of use. Adaptability. That’s what EMR designers should always keep in mind and which those shopping for EMR should always remember.