This weekend I had the delightful experience of spending time hanging out in the hospital as my wife gave birth to our third child. All went well and baby and Mamma are doing well. Of course, having this fanatical EMR background that I do, I couldn’t help bet spend many moments considering on the impact of an EMR at the hospital. Certainly I was watching as the nurses spent a lot of their time at the computer entering in all sorts of granular data about what was happening in our room. It was interesting to watch how laborious it was for them to enter everything. I could see many of them dreading that part of the job.
However, the thing that hit me most was that the computer was so rarely in the middle of my wife and baby’s care. At all of the most important points the computer wasn’t even really present. Other sophisticated technical devices were there, but the computer and the EMR were no where to be seen. No EMR when they measured her contractions. No EMR when they gave her a spinal tap (don’t ask me the real technical terms). No EMR when the doctor was performing the c-section. The first time I saw an EMR was actually when we took my new born baby into another room to do all the necessary weighing, immunizations, etc.
Now the question I asked myself was if I felt like I was getting any worse care because the EMR wasn’t at the center of our care? The answer of course is no. Was the EMR probably running somewhere in the background? For most of the care, yes. However, it didn’t really matter to us, because we knew we were in the hands of professionals who were going to do the best job they could do.
Now I’ve always felt like I was a strong doctors advocate (those who’ve read me for a while can agree or disagree), but I must admit that this experience really highlighted the importance of the doctor’s skills in the level of care that’s given. No EMR can replace that. I also find it interesting that doctors are required to provide such detail when they do a procedure they’ve done a hundred times. Imagine if we required our IT people to detail every time they installed a new printer.
Sorry for a few personal musings of a tired new father. Just remember that an EMR won’t be there for me at 4 AM when the babies crying either. However, EMR and HIPAA will be, and I’ll be typing away.