I have a number of doctor friends that I know from church, scouts (yes, I’m an assistant scoutmaster), or other local group. I must admit that generally our focus is whatever activity is at hand, but every once in a while they or I will bring up the topic of EMR.
These types of discussions are especially fascinating because they give a nice insight into a doctor’s perspective from someone who’s not inside the healthcare IT bubble. You know, that bubble where we all know the difference between meaningful use stage 1 and 2, ONC-ATCB and CCHIT, and a whole set of other acronyms. Certainly these doctors know some of these terms or have at least heard of some of these terms, but they definitely don’t know all the details. In fact, that’s what makes it so interesting to see what they know and what they don’t know.
I bring all of this up because I had a short discussion with one of the really smart doctor friends of mine. When I say smart I mean it from a clinical standpoint (he’s seen me a few times), but he’s also a very smart businessman as well. So, with this respect I’m always interested to hear his take on things.
This doctor has been a user of an EMR for quite a few years. He’s quite satisfied with his EMR and in our discussion he is planning to get the Medicaid EHR incentive money. After a short discussion he stopped and told me, “John, you know the thing I dislike most about an EMR?”
Then, he proceeded to tell me, “The thing I dislike most about an EMR is that it perpetuates misinformation.”
I’d certainly considered the topic before, but I thought it was an excellent description of this EMR challenge.
Part of this reminds me of a guest post done by Dr. West about Copy and Paste in EMR (He now blogs at Happy EMR Doctor). Copy and paste has the challenge of perpetuating misinformation too. Although, I think his comment is much deeper than just copy and paste.
There’s a challenge in most EMR software to take whatever was entered as complete fact. It’s not usually as easy as putting a line through it to correct something that was entered incorrectly. There’s no reimbursement for correcting or updating records even if it’s really essential to great patient care. As a commenter on the above copy and paste post said, “It is not the machine or process, it comes down to ethics, professionalism, and accountability.”