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.