October 18, 2012

The promise of electronic health records and the reality are not always the same, at least not yet, according to the article “The Ups and Downs of Electronic Medical Records.”

Doctors and nurses in Contra Costa County, Calif., hospitals rebelled against time-consuming processes that doubled the wait time for emergency-department patients, while county jail nurses blamed the same EHR for a potential medication error the say could have killed an inmate.

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., can’t get its three EHR systems to talk to one another. And the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is investigating whether EHRs are facilitating cases fraudulent billing.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported last fall that EHRs, when fully adopted, could be linked to 60,000 or more adverse events annually. Reporting and prevention mechanisms are needed, the agency said.

A separate administration report on health safety is due in November, according to Farzad Mostashari, the National Coordinator for Health IT, following an Institute of Medicine report that recommended that EHR vendors be required to report deaths and serious injuries, as well as the creation of an independent agency like the National Safety Transportation Board to investigate patient safety.

“Like so many other things in healthcare,” Mark Pauly, Ph.D., professor of healthcare management at the Wharton School, told the Times, “the amount of accomplishment is well short of the amount of cheerleading.” Read the full New York Times article

Read more: EHRs: Both promising and puzzling – FierceHealthIT http://www.fiercehealthit.com/special-reports/ehrs-both-promising-and-puzzling#ixzz2KjZndRFu
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