Are Electronic Medical Records Bad For Your Health?

Remember the wonderful land of 2009: everything was going to CHANGE; every new idea had the potential to bring about world peace and every new initiative was instant money in the bank. There was sense that it was really the old ways that were holding us back, and if we could get over those, we could make it to the promised land. Can you remember those sentiments?

Well, once upon a time, in such a land, there was a U.S. president-elect by the name of Obama, that suggested to us, the, people electronic medical records would make our lives much easier and save us money to boot. He even out a plan to turn all medical records electronic in the next five years, and he was not alone in his optimism.

About fours years before that time, 2005, to be exact, the RAND Corporation, a nonproft global policy think tank said that digital medical records would save the health care industry over $81 billion dollars in expenses. And subsequently, with these great endorsements, lots of folks got on board with the idea. So how have those predictions turned out?

“I often describe it as cutting edge 1995 technology,” says Ashish Ja, a health policy professor at Harvard. He went onto describe the current system as both “cumbersome” and terrible.”

For doctors to electronic medical recording it requires a great sacrifice of both precious time and money, the price: about $50,000 to $100,000. And even those using the system may not be benefiting their patients at all.

According to a recent study published by Critical Care Medicine, out of an examined 2,068 electronic records, 135 had about five months worth of copy-and-pasted medical progress information. In some cases, researchers found that documentation left health care workers so confused, personal calls had to be made to the original physicians in order to make sense of it all. But not everyone has a bone to pick with the new system.

Mayo Clinic reports that digital medical records help them to provide coordinated and high-quality care. “…the ‘open book’ serves as an excellent means of peer review,” says George B. Bartley, an opthamologist at Mayo-Clinic in Minnesota.

Only time will tell which side is proven right.