Global Health Ideas

Finding global health solutions through innovation and technology

Efficiency, Reach and the quest for better healthcare delivery

Electronic Medical Records are often discussed as a key technology to reduce health care costs and to improve information exchange throughout the health system. Yesterday’s Washington Post covered the VA’s move to digital medical records in the story entitled “VA Takes Lead in Paperless Care“. The article raises some interesting questions about the pros and cons of electronic medical records. Here are some excerpts from the article:

Did the electronic medical record save this 71-year-old man? It’s impossible to say.

But this much is clear: Never again will a VA patient’s chart be an excuse for things not happening efficiently. Never again will information that is lost, hard to read or impossible to move from one place to another be a factor in the complicated calculus of what makes good medical care — and, on occasion, saves lives.

The electronic medical record is the most important single development helping to usher in the Era of No Excuses in modern medicine. It is an age in which clinical decision-making, physician performance and patient outcomes are increasingly transparent; patient safety is mechanized; and the once-secret medical chart is sometimes open to contributions from the patients themselves.

Electronic medical records make confusing and physically unwieldy masses of data instantly available, portable and searchable — altogether more useful than when the information was stored on paper. Computer-accessible records have the potential to save the cost-strangled American medical system billions of dollars in waste, repetition and error. They may also prove to be essential tools of research, allowing scientists to examine patterns of medical practice, drug use, complication rates and health outcomes.

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Written by Mahad Ibrahim

April 11, 2007 at 11:06 am

Posted in Global Health

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