How Electronic Medical Records Are Improving Outcomes

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I know there has been a lot of controversy about electronic medical records as they've been introduced. There's a lot of angst among physicians who were using the systems. They are complicated, it's extremely costly. It's challenging. When I go my own doctor, and I see him kind of struggling, you appreciate it.

On the other hand, I think it's accomplished at least two or three extremely important things. First of all, it's been a huge help for patients to get ready access to their diagnostic information that all shows up to get pharmacy refills done electronically to be a little have electronic communications physician, it's fantastic from a patient's stand point.

Secondly, it's provided huge benefits in reducing errors, so we have a bar-code medication and medication administration system and we bar code the med, we bar code the patient's wristband, we bar code the nurse, everything matches up, the right time, the right patient, the right dose, the right med, administer it and we're set, and we have a number of alerts everyday that say well this isn't the right med, or the right patient.

We've saved those errors from happening. It has countless examples, we don't replicate tests that were done in an outpatient setting when the patient shows us in the emergency department because we can pull those up, so it's great on those fronts. The two other big opportunities, one is the having common data that we can share with Kaiser and other systems is going to give us a much better database from which to make judgments about improving the quality of care, what kind of interventions work with what kind of patients in what kind of circumstances, and I think we've just never really had that information before and we really need it.

The final thing I'd say is that, we've had a hard time in this country judging comparative quality, is that hospital doing a better job for their patients than that hospital, and if one has a higher mortality level, they say, well, our patients are sicker and it's been very hard to make those judgments, and until we get every hospital up on some kind of electronic medical correct assessment until every doctor is on one, and we can start to see whether physicians are all practicing evidenced based medicine in their treatment of their diabetic patients or whatever kind of patients they have, we're not going to really know whether there is this common level of quality that we kind of assume is there but we're not really sure, and I think the electronic medical record for all the bumps that we've had in the federal government's paying a lot of money to help support hospitals and doctors put these in place.

It's going to be a fantastically important investment in the long run..