Focus on Electronic Medical Records

December 01, 2009

When I was interviewing for residency spots after medical school, I had a checklist to judge the quality of the medical record systems at the institutions where I might be working. I wanted to know whether they had electronic medical records (EMRs), and/or order systems. I wanted to know how user-friendly the systems were, whether I could access them from home, and how reliable they were. It was an important aspect of where I was going to spend the next several years of my life training.

I'm convinced that all the debate about EMRs will be rendered moot over the next 10 years. Arguments against EMRs, such as the idea that they don't make healthcare more efficient, or that they're insecure or too expensive will be negated by a physician community that will demand efficient EMR systems.

We have a generation of physicians and other healthcare professionals coming of age who grew up with computer keyboards at their fingertips and know nothing else. They are health information technology savvy and are used to quick and seamless access to information.

Health Technology News
hosts Grand Rounds on December 1, 2009.

Rich Elmore already knows this. He runs a health information technology consulting firm and writes at the blog, Healthcare Technology News .

Healthcare Technology News covers a core, specific topic with breadth and opinion, from an entry on health IT in the context of American healthcare reform to the potential of EMRs to improve communications between doctors and patients.

A recent post points to how the United States lags behind other countries in the effort to institute EMRs.

[Forty-six percent] of US primary care physicians report using electronic medical records (EMRs) significantly, trailing other leading countries. EMRs are "nearly universal" in the Netherlands (99%), New Zealand (97%), the UK (96%), Australia (95%), Italy (94%), Norway (97%), and Sweden (94%).

The post, which references a study by the Commonwealth Fund, also details how EMRs in the hands of primary care providers have the potential to improve healthcare quality in the United States.

We spend far more than any of the other countries in the survey, yet a majority of US primary care doctors say their patients often can't afford care, and a wide majority of primary care physicians don't have advanced computer systems to access patient test results, anticipate and avoid medication errors, or support care for chronically ill patients.

Whatever the challenges or the merits of EMRs, Health Technology News has convinced many readers that health information technology is going to play a major role in shaping the American healthcare experience in coming years. Physicians can get ready for it by visiting Healthcare Technology News. Start this week, when Health Technology News hosts Grand Rounds. Grand Rounds offers the best of the medical blogosphere. It features writing from patients, physicians, health policy wonks, nurses, and others interested in healthcare.


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