The New York Times finally gets it on electronic medical records

Their recent editorial on electronic medical records is bang on, albeit a bit late, as their conclusions have been discussed on the medical blogs for the past year or so.

The NEJM study in March, showing a 1.5 percent hospital adoption rate for comprehensive digital records, probably finally persuaded them. They acknowledge that, even though money is the primary issue, cash alone won’t solve the problem.

What the influx of dollars will do is incentivize doctors and hospitals to all buy different systems that don’t talk to one another. Indeed, “the modernization effort will have limited value if a mélange of different computer systems can’t talk to one another.”

And will that really improve patient care and cut costs?

It’s highly unlikely.

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  • American Medical Association

    We couldn’t agree more on the need for interoperability of HIT systems. The economic stimulus bill makes a good start by requiring HHS to issue initial standards by the end of this year. These are sorely needed for widespread adoption and should go a long way toward increasing physician confidence in purchasing decisions.

    The economic stimulus law provides substantial financial incentives to enable us to move toward an interoperable, nationwide HIT infrastructure. When implemented properly in a connected environment, the AMA sees widespread HIT use as a means to improve patient safety, advance care coordination, and increase administrative efficiency.

  • Anonymous

    There are many other powerful public safety uses to the EMR can be put as well.

    The BATF, state and local officials can use the information to decide who is fit or not fit to own a gun. Police safety can be greatly enhanced by linking certain data elements to the databases that they can access with their laptops when making a stop–so they can know who is on psychotropic drugs, who has a substance abuse problem, personality disorder or is flagged as someone with a lot of conflict with healthcare providers.

    Imagine the beneficial uses to which Homeland Security personnel can put a centralized database in screening passengers or managing an unruly one.

    Some priggish types might disapprove but public harmony would be greatly enhanced if Homeland Security, in investigating the safety question regarding those with fringe political views, simply had the medical file open where the subject being interviewed could see that they had it. Knowing that they have access to that information would alone be enough to shut up most troublemakers.

    Medical Boards in dealing with doctors, the list goes on and on. We would finally put a tool in our governments hans that they could use to proactively identify problem individuals and deal with them effectively.

  • Anonymous

    The economic stimulus laws basically effectively cuts any physicians out of the public payor system who doesn’t dump his patients private data into the EMR system. And the AMA defends this?

  • Anonymous

    It will save lives and take people off welfare. It will make hospitals and practices more efficient. Everyone in the medical industry is worried about Socialized medicine. Why don’t we fight Obama with what we have and get it or have a bunch of locums come in and ruin it. If your like me you want to make health care more efficient and make changes and make more advancements.So lets drop that and tell everyone we don’ need to enable society and make doctor’s worry about their jobs and get Electronic Medical Records and more people might get on the bandwagon. Electronic medical records is what it is going to save doctors jobs and make you look more valuable.All the records will be on a virtual server. So yes it will correspond. Just like Me posting here! It will be sent over like an email.

  • Joel Sherman MD

    Electronic medical records (EMR) have great potential, but we are not even close to realizing its potential. The government is proposing EMR as a money saving vehicle for its interoperability. But how can there be interoperability when we have Medicare, Medicaid, 50 states and a thousand insurance companies all with different requirements and standards? Only one national system has achieved interoperability, the Veterans Administration. You can walk into a clinic in California and they can obtain your records from Maine online. They can do it because it’s one system with one set of standards. It’s inconceivable that our wide ranging and disparate medical ‘system’ can achieve anything similar.
    I can put EMR in my office and hopefully offer better care to MY patients, but no one else will be able to access them. Interoperability will only be a dream until we have a unified national health system. I don’t think the billions the administration is devoting to this cause can possibly save any money or significantly improve health care.

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