Monday, February 8, 2010

The Continued Evolution of EMRs

In a broad ranging survey published in May, less than a third of physicians documented drug changes in their patients by both hand and electronically. While this seems disconcerting on the surface because the chance of miscommunication, a further look into the reasoning makes this a good sign in the continued evolution of electronic medical records (EMR)

Entitled, “The Research Comparison of Information Content of Structured and Narrative Text Data Sources on the Example of Medication Intensification,” the outcomes from the comprehensive study are explained this way:

“A large fraction of medical data is contained in narrative documents. As electronic medical record (EMR) systems grow more prevalent, narrative information is increasingly being entered in digital format and thus becomes amenable to computational extraction. Since the late 1990's, a large number of tools have been successfully developed for this purpose.”

It is clear that the transition phase for EMRs still exists, but it is getting better for two key reasons:

1. The quantity of doctors that are comfortable using technology to document information is steadily increasing because of both education and the overall societal acceptance of technology.

2. EMRs are the future. Too much time and money has gone into this endeavor for it to be considered anything other than that. Healthcare professionals rebelled for a bit, but overall, most are coming to this conclusion.

The strike against EMRs is the security and trust issue, but human error will always be a constant no matter what form information is transferred. Therefore, the EMR industry members will have to be the variable that determines the role that human error plays in the success of the technology.

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