22 March 2011

EMRs – An Advantage or Disadvantage

This doctor has the right attitude about electronic medical records (EMRs). For him they are an aid in his work allowing him to access important medical information quickly which allows him more time with his patients. He correctly calls many physicians Luddites. This means that many see the downsides of technological advances and to not appreciate the positive side of EMRs.

This doctor is R. Centor in his February 28, 2011 blog. He is an academic hospitalist that enjoys his work in two hospitals and says it does not affect his bedside manner. He states “my bedside manner does not differ, because being at the bedside is a separate job from recording our visits – or at least it should be.

How I wish we all had doctors like this. Doctors that used to have their heads in the paper records will still have their heads looking at the computer and much of the time not giving their attention to the patient whether in a hospital, office setting, or as an outpatient. Dr. Centor emphasizes the patient first, he states he likes patients, and interacting with them to educate them. He takes his occupation seriously and does not desire to do harm to any patient.

An article in the New England Journal of Medicine says that technology may be harming patients. The article states that with all the new technology, and the risk adverse attitude of most doctors, they overuse the technology by over testing and over treating many patients to protect the patients and themselves. This is part of the reasoning behind the skyrocketing cost of medical care.

Even Dr. Centor would agree that many doctors forget their hard-earned knowledge and training and desire to avoid legal entanglements by relying on technology to be on the “safe side” of many diagnoses.

The NEJM article says this makes the U.S. system of medical care almost bankrupt and perpetuates serious economic and racial disparities. This makes our healthcare system rank in the bottom tier among developed countries in children's health outcomes.

The NEJM article says that the U.S. must rediscover the value of clinical judgment and
put technology is perspective and not as the save all that many would like to believe. The article does not think that technology should be the cover-all-possibilities tool, but a tool to be an aid when knowledge leaves us shaking our head because common sense cannot determine what may be wrong.

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