Should the EMR/EHR Revolution be postponed?

The MedInformaticsMD thinks so:

In the United States, we need to consider the implications of this towards our own ambitious plans for national health records.

Either we get it right, or we should not pursue it at all under the current economic downturn. There are millions of uninsured and underserved people in this country who would benefit far more tangibly from funding of healthcare services rather than funding of ambitious health records projects that transfer scarce capital from the healthcare to the IT sector. These are initiatives that are demonstrably fraught with peril (as in the UK), that healthcare organizations and clinicians may not truly want to succeed, and with unproven ROI and unclear quality improvement benefits…

I’ve been noticing an EMR/EHR backlash quietly gaining steam over the last couple of years.  I’m all in favor of health information technology (HIT).  My practice is about as paperless and computerized as is practical given the current constraints of both technology and economics.  But quite frankly I don’t think we are “there yet” in terms of EMR/EHR technology being advanced enough, safe enough, and cheap enough for it to be nationally implemented.  We are still in the “early adopter” phase of the technology.  Or to use an Internet metaphor, we are at the BBS stage, but not the World Wide Web stage.

Unless the insurance companies and the government try to strong-arm physicians and other health care workers and entities into adopting HIT prematurely — which appears to be exactly what is happening — I suspect that most of the health care industry will voluntarily adopt a more mature HIT that will be available down the road, say 10 years from now.

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One Response to “Should the EMR/EHR Revolution be postponed?”

  1. Yes, if we can’t get it right, we shouldn’t do it.

    For more, see my academic site on HIT difficulties:

    http://www.ischool.drexel.edu/faculty/ssilverstein/medinfo.htm

    – MedInformaticsMD

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