The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) EHR Incentive Program -- also known as meaningful use (MU) -- initially provided incentives to accelerate the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) to meet certified program requirements.  Many physicians were mandated to change over to electronic records at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars.  Electronic records have never been shown to improve patient care or outcomes with statistical significance, ...

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Anyone with a computer or smartphone is well aware of the incessant alerts that flash across the screen, often accompanied by a beep or exclamation point. The alert may be for an upcoming appointment, a reminder of an acquaintance’s birthday -- or a just-announced sale at your favorite online retailer. How many of these alerts are really important? It’s easy to ignore a media news flash -- but what if you ...

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The notion began early in computer science class during Jason's freshman year. The professor had noticed a certain elegance and zeal in his work and suggested medicine. That was in the days of the giants when clinicians were tied to such clunky programs as meaningful use and PQRS. In this antiquated milieu, Jason cut his teeth on basic health care architecture. In those prehistoric years, there still remained a bias toward ...

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I remember the disdain some of the EHR trainers had for their trainees back when our hospital system “went live” several years ago. Of course, this disdain was tempered by their knowledge that if docs weren’t so computer illiterate, or the user interfaces of the EHR systems weren’t so awful, or if the EHR software wasn’t so bug-ridden, their jobs wouldn’t exist. So they soldiered bravely on, undaunted by grumpy old ...

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It happened again.  Yesterday, I was charting on the recently launched streamlined version of our electronic health records and a new note popped up in the right lower corner of the screen: "Welcome to (our new texting system).  Now you can instantly and securely text about patient care with all of your colleagues." A few seconds later, a message popped up.  “You have one unread message.”  As with most other communication systems, ...

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Customer service is all the rage these days in most facets of our lives. America leads the world in this area (however much of the public here take it for granted). I’ve traveled all over the world, and the concept of customer service in many other parts of the globe, including highly advanced and prosperous other Western nations, still leaves a lot to be desired. It’s always reassuring to know ...

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One of the topics that I write most about is the interaction of health care information technology with frontline clinical medicine, which I believe to be among the most critical issues facing the practice of medicine at the moment. With statistics now suggesting that doctors (and nurses) are spending an absolute minimal amount of their day engaging in direct patient care — some research suggesting as little as ...

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One of my favorite things about being an entrepreneur is the people I’m privileged to meet and spend time with.  This week I met a fellow Montana physician, Alistair MacDonald, who has started his own company.  He’s created a product that automatically decreases the volume on music playing in the operating room if a patient's vital signs are tanking.  It seems like an important idea to me.  He made some ...

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Imagine my surprise and delight when I saw my dentist this week for a check-up and found the electronic health record (EHR) to be both informative and patient friendly. As I sat in the dental chair, the large monitor screen was swung over in front of me, and my dentist was at my side going over it. The monitor was not a barrier; it was part of my exam. The ...

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Over the past few months, I’ve been in England, China, Denmark, New Zealand and Canada. Each of them is rethinking their health care IT strategy and is not entirely satisfied with past progress. I’m often asked by senior government officials to help harmonize IT strategy at the country level. That — I can do. I frequently say that health care IT issues are the same all over the world. Here are a few ...

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