How Are Electronic Medical Records a Good Return on Government Investment?

Read Transcript

So the electronic medical record which is dramatically changing in this country right now. I mean this has been one of the great success stories I think in government involvement, small amount of money relatively speaking for a physician is getting a huge change in getting people to adopt these records with all the problems, with the imperfections, but yet getting the data electronic which is, if you think about it, it's just like banking.

How could we have the ATM revolution if we didn't have everything electronic we couldn't have ATMs if all of your banking records were still kept on paper somewhere right? So this is the same concept, this is sort of a core infrastructure it's not the solution, it's just the basic thing that we need to do is like when they built the interstate highways, still need a lot of other things to make transportation better, but if you didn't have good highways, it didn't really matter.

So that's the core. On top of that you need tools to be able to link different records together, and to make it easy for physicians to get access to data within the record so that it becomes meaningful because you can get data overload, so we look at the first part there's different records together right? So patients seeing seven different doctors, right? Maybe they even have a hospitalization in the course of the year or whatever, that might be seven or eight different medical records, all right even though electronic there are seven or eight different electronic records that might be kept on that patient.

Well again if there's not some good communication, we call it interoperability, if there's not some good interoperbility, some communication, some ways of connecting that data together, it might as well be on paper almost, because it's still just sitting in seven different silos.

So that's a huge key next step, and if you look at where the office of the national coordinator for HIT is working on what's called the meaningful use program If you look at stage two and stage three, they're beginning to really focus on this, because they understand, okay, now we got sort of the basic infrastructure in, we've got to connect that infrastructure up.

The other thing by the way that sort of connection allows you to do again which other industries have done is really do sophisticated analysis on that data. Let's look at the 500 diabetics that Dr. Smith and his colleagues are taking care of versus the 500 diabetics that Dr. Jones and his colleagues are taking care of, is something that we can learn from one or the other is to make both groups better, right? You can't do that if the data is old in somebody's hand written notes somewhere, but once you have an electronic, you can start to do the kinds of analytics, again that the retail industry does or the financial industry does, and it becomes almost automatic.