electronic records, good or bad?

i believe they are necessary at times other times not really

electronic records (pro)


An EMR is more beneficial than paper records because it allows providers to:

Track data over time

Identify patients who are due for preventive visits and screenings

Monitor how patients measure up to certain parameters, such as vaccinations and blood pressure readings

Improve overall quality of care in a practice

The information stored in EMRs is not easily shared with providers outside of a practice. A patient’s record might even have to be printed out and delivered by mail to specialists and other members of the care team.

moving hospitals out of paper records and into seamless digital connectivity has been tougher than anyone but hard-core skeptics thought seven years ago, when the federal government began pouring billions of dollars into a push to make electronic medical records the universal standard. Computerization of health care data would quickly get patients' health information where it needs to go, improving care and cutting costs.

electronic records (cons)

That was the idea – but the path to EMR has been rocky. Some hospitals, like those recognized by U.S. News as Most Connected Hospitals 2015-16 in newly released ratings, are shining examples. Overall, however, progress has been blocked, among other obstacles, by reluctance to share information with competitors, software from different vendors that can't communicate, physicians who have pushed back at hospitals where they had to grapple with unaccustomed computerized routines and the expense, often exceeding $1 billion in large hospital systems, of retooling antiquated computers.

As things now stand, medical records are often incomplete and vital patient information is frequently marooned on health care islands – parked at one large health system but inaccessible to a hospital outside the system where that same patient may have just arrived in the ER. Or records aren't sent to primary care providers, leaving them in the dark about the course of a patient's treatments.

Amid continued concerns that digitized patient data still isn’t getting to the point of care, and facing pressure from providers and lawmakers who argue that hospitals and other health organizations are being compelled to do too much too fast despite the perception that they should be well down the road, this month the Department of Health and Human Services issued final rules on an advanced set of requirements to make electronic health information more readily available to clinicians. The new standards are promised to be simpler and more flexible, responding to complaints from hospitals and physicians.

The big picture of hospital connectivity in the U.S. today is “profoundly negative,” says cardiologist Eric Topol, author of “The Patient Will See You Now” and chief academic officer at San Diego-based Scripps Health. “There’s been tremendous resources put into this and little to show for it,” he says. “We have a country characterized by information-blocking, where there is a lack of connectivity from one health system to another, and patients are the ones who are collateral damage because of all this Tower of Babel.”

Topol points out that countries from Australia to Estonia have broken down barriers to information sharing and given patients greater ownership of their health care by putting their data into their own hands. He believes this model should replace the current “paternalistic” system where the control of patient information remains firmly with hospitals and other health providers. Many places around the world have instead adopted the patients-own-their-data model, Topol says. “Then you don’t worry so much about blocking, because the patient has the goods.”

David Blumenthal, a physician and president of the Commonwealth Fund, which supports research on health and social issues, agrees that the pace of progress in sharing health information with patients leaves something to be desired. But Blumenthal, who as National Coordinator for Health Information Technology from 2009 to 2011 oversaw the effort to build a nationwide health information system, views health providers and not patients as the health data custodians for the foreseeable future, given the complexity of medical data and information-sharing.

He’s enthusiastic about the improved information-sharing between health care providers at all levels. He cites figures showing a near twofold jump in the proportion of non-federal acute care hospitals that electronically exchange laboratory results, radiology reports, clinical-care summaries or medication lists with each other, from 41 percent in 2008 to 76 percent in 2014.

“I’m encouraged at the attention this area is getting and the interest [from] both the executive branch and the Congress in taking action to improve health-information exchange among hospitals,” says Blumenthal, “but also between hospitals and other providers of care as well as among non-hospital providers.”

Despite widespread consternation over the state of hospital connectivity in the U.S., experts say, some bright spots may help illuminate the way forward.

Zipping Patient Information Where It Needs to Go

Competition between health systems for patients remains a significant block to free-flowing electronic exchange of patient information. A report from the Office of the National Coordinator in April found that "some health care providers and health IT developers are knowingly interfering with the exchange or use of electronic health information in ways that limit its availability and use to improve health and health care.” Congressional action is likely needed to correct the issue, the ONC concluded.

But that's not the case everywhere. Some state and regional health-in

So in my opinion, electronic medical records are sometimes necessary and other times not somuch.