Global Health Ideas

Finding global health solutions through innovation and technology

Market Failure and the Clear Need for Electronic Health Records

The New York Times reports that Most Doctors Aren’t Using Electronic Health Records. However, the New England Journal of Medicine study released June 18th notes paradoxically “doctors who use electronic health records say overwhelmingly that such records have helped improve the quality and timeliness of care.” The benefits are overwhelmingly positive: “82% [of doctors using electronic medical records] said they improved the quality of clinical decisions, 86% said they helped in avoiding medication errors, and 85% said they improved the delivery of preventative care.” Clearly, electronic medical records could be a tremendous aid in improving health outcomes, shifting the balance of care from costly medical intervention to relatively inexpensive prevention measures, and reducing medical errors.

Yet fewer than one in five of the nation’s doctors has started using such records.” Only 4% of doctors surveyed were using “fully functional” electronic records that can record clinical and demographic data, results of lab tests, issue orders and inform clinical decisions (such as warning about drug interactions). 13% of respondents reported using a “basic” clinical system, which lacks clinical decision support and some order-entry capability.

The barriers cited are largely economic, with doctors in small practices citing prohibitive capital costs for adopting a new system, lost income from not seeing patients, and no existing electronic medical record software that meets the needs of small to medium practices. In an attempt to speed adoption, the government has announced a Medicare program that will offer incentives to practices to transition to electronic medical records.

What we see is a deficit in innovation, and that is something innovators and the capital markets can address,” said Dr. David J. Brailer, who leads a firm that invests in medical ventures, Health Evolution Partners.

After conducting several retrospective folder reviews, I believe the conventional patient folder is actually an obstacle to good patient care. Folders are often lost or duplicated, and they take time to retrieve. Basic patient information is duplicated in every physician’s notes, handwriting is often illegible, there is no alert system for medication errors, guidelines for patient management, or flags for unusual findings or reminders on lab results. Despite a fully integrated health system in South Africa, the reliance on paper records causes fragmentation of patient information, and disrupts continuity of care.

Why go with paper when you could have electronic medical records?


Written by farzaneh

June 21, 2008 at 9:02 am

Posted in ICT, Innovation

One Response

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  1. Hey, Thanks, for the information. Nowadays, Most of the doctors are using Electronic Health Records and they can say that overwhelmingly that such records have helped improve the quality and timeliness of care.

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