Monday, November 2, 2015

EMR Disappointment And Acceptance

This past summer I was on a train in the Paris area and happened to share a train car with someone who was also from the East Coast of the US. We chatted and found out that he was a doctor, which always makes me slightly tense. Sure enough, once I mention that I am a medical information systems specialist we somehow end up on the topic of how bad so many of them are.

Why is that? I assume so many health care professionals have so little regard for their Electronic Medical Records system and other e-tools of the trade because these tools are not very good.

At least these medical informations are not very good at supporting many of their users. These medical information systems probably excel at supporting corporate goals or IT departmental goals.

The specific complaints by my companion on the train were painfully typical:
  • the screen layout is cramped and crowded;
  • the history available on-line is too short;
  • the specialized information (labs, x-rays, etc) are not well presented;
  • the data is biased toward general medicine and internal medicine.
But what struck me about our conversation with his resignation. While we rehashed the usual complaints and frustrations with large Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) systems, he was more resigned than anything else. He just doesn't expect anything more from the software supporting his efforts to deliver clinical care.

We expect great things from our smart phones. We have high standards for our desktops and laptops and tablets. But somehow we have come to accept mediocrity in our systems supporting clinical care. And since we accept it, there is little chance of correcting it.

At least I will have lots to talk about with random clinicians I run into on trains.

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