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Posted on October 10, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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A recent article by the New York Times entitled ‘«£The Ups and Downs of Electronic Medical Records‘«ō has generated a lot of discussion among the HIT community and among healthcare professionals.

It‘«÷s an excellent article, looking at concerns that a number of healthcare professionals have about the efficiency, accuracy and reliability of EMRs. One source quoted, Mark V. Pauly, professor of health care management at the Wharton School, said the health I.T. industry was moving in the right direction but that it had a long way to go before it would save real money.

‘«£Like so many other things in health care,‘«ō Dr. Pauly said, ‘«£the amount of accomplishment is well short of the amount of cheerleading.‘«ō

Seriously? I can‘«÷t believe we‘«÷re still having this conversation.

In a world where I can go to Lowe‘«÷s and they can tell me what color paint I bought a year ago, or I can call Papa John‘«÷s and they know what my usual pizza order is, how can we expect less from our healthcare systems?

I recently joined a new healthcare system, and I have been impressed and pleased by their use of EMR and technology. I no longer have to worry about whether I told the new specialist everything he or she needed to know about my health history; it‘«÷s in my record. I no longer have to remember when I had my last tetanus shot; it‘«÷s in my record.

My care is coordinated between doctors, labs, etc., better than it ever has been before. In the past, I felt as though my healthcare was a giant patchwork quilt‘«Ųand some of the stitches were coming loose, frankly.

This new system with a widely used EMR, to me, is a huge improvement.

Granted, the problems cited in the article are real and need to be addressed. However, the article itself mentions some redundancies that are in place to insure that a system going down doesn‘«÷t throw the entire Mayo Clinic into freefall. And certainly, additional redundancies may be needed to insure that prescriptions aren‘«÷t incorrectly sent to a pharmacy for the wrong patient, etc.

Do doctors and medical staff need to learn how to code correctly so that they aren‘«÷t accused of cloning? Yes‘«Ųbut that‘«÷s a relatively easy problem to fix. The problem has already been identified, and training has already begun to address the issue.

I have been through this type of problem before, as have many of you, with new systems. It‘«÷s called a learning curve, and it‘«÷s relatively easy to work through with patience and determination. I have encountered situations before where the team I was working with threw up their hands when they ran into problems learning a new database system and said ‘«£It doesn‘«÷t work.‘«ō Yet in time, they learned to love the system‘«Ųand some of the biggest doubters became the experts on it.

Healthcare professionals overcome more difficult challenges than this every day; they bring people back from the dead, for Pete‘«÷s sake! I have no doubt that they will adapt and learn to utilize EMRs so that they improve healthcare and take patient care to levels currently unimaginable.

And to say, as was quoted in the article: ‘«£The technology is being pushed, with no good scientific basis‘«ō? Ridiculous, with all due deference to Dr. Scot M. Silverstein, a health I.T. expert at Drexel University who reports on medical records problems on the blog Health Care Renewal and made the statement.

Database management of information has been proven to be an improvement on paper records in just about every industry there is; healthcare will not be an exception.

Is it hard? Yes, it‘«÷s hard. To quote the movie A League of Their Own, ‘«£If it were easy, everyone would do it.‘«ō

Everyone can‘«÷t do it. But I have no doubt that healthcare professionals will do it. Remember that part about bringing people back from the dead? This is a lesser miracle.

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