2010 April 06 Tuesday
Electronic Medical Records Provide Few Benefits?

A favorite among politicians for controlling medical costs does not substantially reduce costs or improve outcomes?

The implementation of electronic health record systems may not be enough to significantly improve health quality and reduce costs. In the April 2010 issue of Health Affairs, researchers from the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) report finding that currently implemented systems have little effect on measures such as patient mortality, surgical complications, length of stay and costs. The authors note that greater attention may need to be paid to how systems are being implemented and used, with the goal of identifying best practices.

"We are still in the early days of electronic health record adoption, and there's little evidence for how best to implement the technology to make the greatest gains," says Catherine DesRoches, DrPh, of the Mongan Institute, who led the study. "Hospitals may not see the benefit of these systems until they are fully implemented, or it may take many years for benefits to become apparent."

Yet a nation living beyond its means is throwing money at the idea anyway?

In recent years several initiatives have been taken to encourage adoption of electronic health records. The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act authorized approximately $30 billion in grants and incentives to support electronic health record implementation. But while several earlier studies suggested that specific aspects of an electronic health record particular computerized physician order entry could improve the quality and efficiency of care, those studies analyzed data from hospitals with customized systems and dedicated quality improvement staff. The current study is the first to examine the effects of electronic systems in a nationally representative group of hospitals.

I bet computers would make a more positive impact if medical expert systems were used more extensively for diagnosis and in choosing ideal courses of treatment.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2010 April 06 11:44 PM  Economics Health


Comments
Arthur Mac Laren said at April 7, 2010 9:54 AM:

Randall,
You have mentioned it before, and I emphasize it: if patients were charged a cost percentage fee for medical services, the health care cost would decrease very significantly. Being a physician in Brasil, where public medical care is granted openly, that including non tax-payers, I've witnessed the absurd. Emergency units are continuously flooded by the most trivial cases, which in fact do not need medical attention, or, at most, ambulatory care. Patients with trivial complaints request complex lab work and exams, and doctors will abide for fear of the improbable or for the simple exhaustion of contestation. Hypochondria is a very common human trait, with immense repercussions. The matter has been discussed here, but being quite politically questionable, never resulted in proper measures. That being done, government would certainly gain enough breath to focus on other serious health issues.
I have become fed up to the point where I left my practice.

Arthur

miles said at April 7, 2010 3:17 PM:

A patient should be able to tell a doctor of his medical history, or his relatives should be able to if he is unconscious. This is basically free. Why do I have a feeling that electronic medical histories will end up being hacked and your private medical history will be in the public domain if you have pissed off the wrong people? Ever been treated for gonhorrea or herpes? Now MSNBC can tell everyone for you.

EMR Medical said at May 13, 2010 6:45 AM:

Yes. Nowadays many doctors are now taking advantage of the internet to conduct web consultations.It able to access patient data from anywhere in the world via a secure connection even allows the doctor to conduct web consultations or generate reports from home. Health maintenance reminders that can be automatically generated from an EMR system also contribute to providing improved patient care.


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