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Good and Bad Doctors Exist Regardless of EHR

Posted on May 21, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I find it interesting how many people are propping up electronic medical records as the silver bullet that’s going to solve our healthcare woes. It’s going to lower costs, improve care and solve world peace.

Let there be no doubt that the promises of electronic medical records are real. My problem is that many of them are just far overstated.

This time article does a pretty good job of putting some of these promises in perspective. The article on electronic medical records ends with this insightful commentary:

Doctors and patients live in a world of painful, pressing questions. The great physicians I’ve known seek answers through personal commitment to each patient and judgment born of practical experience — neither of which I have found in a machine.

I think this highlights an important point. Technology isn’t going to take a poor doctor and make them good. In fact, in some respects an EMR just exacerbates any problems a doctor has already. This isn’t just true for doctors. It’s true for anyone in a clinic. Rare is the person who poorly charts in the paper world and by some miracle is able to chart well in an EMR.

What technology does have the potential to do is take an already good doctor and make them great. Let’s just not think it’s some magical silver bullet.

CCHIT Admits to Being a Marketing Tool and Not Up for Task of ARRA

Posted on May 7, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

In a recent post on the CCHIT website, they have the written testimony on electronic health records and “meaningful use” that CCHIT submitted to the NCVHS. Here’s a quote from that written testimony:

During our initial years, certification served as a confidence-booster for providers concerned about buying EHRs that lacked the needed functionality, security, and interoperability. Financial incentives for EHRs then began to emerge, but they pale in comparison to the bold goals and nationwide scale of the Recovery Act.

I love that CCHIT’s noble goals in the beginning were to be a “confidence-booster” for those purchasing an EHR. Sounds like a nice big marketing tool to me. I’m just really happy that they’re finally open to admit that was the goal of the certification. There’s no doubt that CCHIT has done a great job selling itself as a way for doctors to trust their EHR vendor more than they would have otherwise.

It’s just unfortunate, that CCHIT hasn’t done any reporting on how effective their certification has done for those EHR that have certified. You’d hope that having this certification would mean that certified EHR users would have more “functionality, security, and interoperability.” At least for now, I have yet to see any data that confirms this notion. In fact, I hear some noise that it could be the opposite. Possibly why we haven’t seen any of this data?

Now, for the real kicker. Here’s a second part of the statement by CCHIT for the NCVHS:

Certification must step up to fulfill a more strategic role, serving not only to reduce risks, but as a dynamic coupling mechanism between advancing policies and the real-world development, marketing, adoption, and use of health IT.

A noble and important goal. I just personally don’t see any EHR certification being able to achieve that goal.

Defining EMR Reporting Needs

Posted on May 4, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I read this nice post about an EMR system reporting “number of patients.” Here’s a quick snippet of the EMR reporting problem:

They considered a patient to be someone who had started a course of treatment. However, the clinical operations considered a patient to be someone who walked through the door.

Both of these are valid numbers, but when finance asked for ‘how many patients did you see,’ the two came up with wildly different numbers.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had discussions like this. For example, I’ve been asked the question, how many patients have we seen in the clinic? Do you mean people who have come to the clinic or total appointments for those people? Do you include nurse only visits for immunizations or do you just mean doctors’ visits? etc etc etc.

The cool part is now we’re past those basic EMR reporting and can now start looking at cool questions like, how many patients with a BMI in a specific range were properly diagnosed as obese? Was this addressed during the patient visit? That’s when the data in an EMR starts to be really cool.

Obama’s Investment in EMR, EHR and Health Care IT

Posted on January 12, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I’ve been hearing a lot about Obama’s plans to invest in health care as part of his economic recovery plan. Here’s a few snippets of things I’ve read. Once I have a few free minutes, I’ll try to take a few minutes to provide my thoughts on Obama’s plans to invest in health care IT and EHR/EMR software.

First, take a look at an excerpt of Obama’s technology agenda from his website change.gov:

Lower Health Care Costs by Investing in Electronic Information Technology Systems: Use health information technology to lower the cost of health care. Invest $10 billion a year over the next five years to move the U.S. health care system to broad adoption of standards-based electronic health information systems, including electronic health records.

I originally saw the above listed as “Obama to invest $50 Billion in Electronic Health Records” and it’s interesting to see the same thing quoted just a little bit different at the Health Informatics Blog. $50 billion is a lot of EHR software.

Next, the Washington Post wrote that Obama and Daschle is looking for feedback on the health care system:

“In order for us to reform our health care system, we must first begin reforming how government communicates with the American people,” Obama said in a statement yesterday. “These Health Care Community Discussions are a great way for the American people to have a direct say in our health reform efforts.”

As part of this, you can go and share your thoughts on health care in the US with Obama and his health care team on Change.gov. It will be interesting to see what happens with the information posted to that site. I’m not sure exactly how we’ll know if what we’re saying is heard or not. However, the idea that ti might be heard is great to think about.