Thoughts on the value of EMRs

This post on the value/cost of EMRs touches on a topic that I have been thinking a lot about How valuable is technology in healthcare? More specifically how valuable is IT in healthcare? The answer is twofold. First IT has the capability to be extremely valuable, helping doctors to make better decisions, gathering information from disparate sources, and alerting a doctor to something that he may not have known about or considered. In addition computers can make sure that things like patient records never get lost.

Now the reality is very different. Many EMRs are little more than very expensive data entry and display applications. There is very little automation that is being delivered by EMRs today. Want your patient records on CD? Not so fast. Even if you can get it there is no guarantee that the next doctor you visit will be able to open them. So basically much (not all) of healthcare IT is stuck in the 70s. A world of big system that need to be custom built for each institution. Remind you of IBM? Now where is Microsoft and Apple?

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