Universally hailed as a step in the right direction as part of the HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act of 2009, the increased adoption of and reliance on Electronic Medical Records (EMR’s) is beginning to reveal unintended consequences throughout the healthcare industry. Over the past several years, as the federal government has initiated incentives for healthcare providers to implement electronic recordkeeping, the benefits of this procedural change have been evident.
EMR’s provide a readily accessible, consolidated record containing family history, diagnostic test results, and even medical imaging for use by a patient’s medical team. Another positive result is a reduction in obvious medical errors due to the elimination of illegible handwriting and prescription errors. Today, a robust EMR system will draw attention to medication errors and duplication of services. EMR’s have also facilitated better coordination of care between a primary care physician and hospital staff, resulting in better outcomes for patients.
However, as the adoption of electronic records evolves from the exception to the norm for health care practices, there appears to be some rain falling on the positivity parade. As with many advances in technology, the theory behind something is decidedly different from the actual practice. EMR’s are no different.