In a thought provoking article in Business Week, the current state and value of Electronic Health Records is questioned. The article states:
Large IT implementations are not without problems, however the complexity of providing care creates multipliers in terms of the number of things that can go wrong. It is not possible to anticipate all potential problems, but add in an incomplete or poorly functioning IT system and it is a recipe for disaster.
The CCHIT (Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology) is the US body vested with the responsibility to establish certification standards and requirements for a wide range of EHR and EMRs. The Commission has 19 voting board members of which 7 work for vendors or for-profit tech consulting firms. Even if there is no bias, the perception of bias in decision making, particularly with $17 Billion in potential funding requires a review of governance to ensure there is sufficient oversight in the process. The article goes on further to state:
Barry Hendrix, a primary-care physician in Paragould, Ark., says he paid dearly for just such a mistake, wasting $100,000 on an electronic records system. "It was a complete disaster," he says of the equipment he bought from NextGen in 2005 and abandoned within months. The system generated patient notes with stray asterisks and other gibberish, he says, and it didn't work properly with NextGen's billing software. Hendrix says he couldn't get technical support from the company or its authorized reseller. NextGen, a unit of Quality Systems (QSII) in Horsham, Pa., counters that Hendrix is a rare exception among thousands of loyal customers. It adds that it has terminated the reseller that served him.
Hendrix, however, has advice for doctors looking to go electronic: "Never believe a slick salesman."
The need for transparent data that accurately represents the marketplace and physician needs and experiences with respect to EMR systems cannot be overestimated. Over the past two years, having launched and developed the CanadianEMR web site, I am frequently surprised by the degree of discrepancy between the products that funders approve through the RFP process, and the reported satisfaction levels of actual users.
How does one achieve transparency? Only with the active contribution of information by real users of EMRs through user generated feedback such as EMR ratings.
We cannot move EMR adoption forward without confidence that the systems will meet the needs of clinicians and deliver meaningful improvements in efficiency and care to patients.
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