Why electronic medical records won’t improve patient care or cut costs

Have electronic medical records made a difference in patient care?

According to a study looking at digital medical record adoption of 3,000 hospitals, electronic records have made little difference in cost or quality of care.

That’s discouraging, considering that the government is investing billions of dollars into the technology.

Very few physicians use electronic record systems effectively. For instance, many are simply scanning paper records into a computer, which provides minimal benefit. It’s difficult to track quality improvement data doing that. The problem is further compounded by the archaic interfaces that the current generation of EMRs have, which is akin to a user interface circa Windows 95.

It’s no wonder that most doctors find electronic medical systems actually slows them down. The next generation of systems needs to focus on facilitating the doctor-patient encounter, rather than being an impediment. Taking a few lessons from Google, and improving the user interface would be a good start.

Only then can EMRs realize the potential relied upon by the government and health reformers.

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