NYT on EHRs, again – “critics are not Luddites”

The New York Times edition for Sunday, March 21, 2015 has a commentary about EHRs, “Why Health Care Tech Is Still So Bad.” It provides, I think, a balanced view about the curretn state of EHRs, including both discussion about the problems of current EHR systems, how health care professionals are resisting (one hospital’s recruiting materials for MDs includes, “No E.M.R.”), and the potential advantages of a properly functioning EHR system.

The author notes, “(The) computerization of health care has been like a car whose spinning tires hagve finally gained purchase. We were so accustomed to standing still that we were utterly unprepared for the first lurch forward.” The author goes on to advocate for the benefits of EHRs, including improved treatment outcomes and patient safety and the “transformative” potential of properly designed EHRs used by properly trained professionals.

Finally, the author asks, I think, some tough questions about why the current EHRs were released with some many deficiencies and problems. He noted that other industries would never release a major new product without extensive testing by the people who actually would use the product, and this obviously has not been the case with the companies who have developed the current generation of EHRs. He concludes, “An important step is admitting that there is a problem, toning down the hype, and welcoming thoughtful criticism, rather than branding critics as Luddites” (emphasis added).

(Disclosure: I have used an EHR in a hospital setting for years, and find it to have a step learning curve but to also be a powerful tool, but also to lack the true interoperability that would make it an even more effective tool).

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