Why Electronic Health Records can be a Bad Thing

My observation of the healthcare system is that the intention is to make things better for a patient. That means knowing two things: the current status and what to do next.

The problem for the healthcare professional is getting the right data for a diagnosis – especially when diagnostic tests are expensive. The only reason that the medical history is seen as having value is because it is a proxy (a very poor proxy) for the current situation. What would be much better is for the healthcare professional to have available a comprehensive set of relevant diagnostic test results.

As I’ve commented before, the PCEHR will only entrench old ways of doing things. IMHO, Health Information Systems should be used to do things better, not do old, bad things in such a way that it actually makes things harder – i.e. more uncertain, unreliable information for the healthcare professional to wade through.

What would be much better would be new and innovative ways to assess the current state of the patient and to better predict appropriate treatment. The PCEHR does neither. In fact it gives the impression that things will get better when in fact they will get worse.

There are many areas when technology is being used to deliver better, quicker and cheaper diagnostic tests – I saw some at CeBit in Sydney a few months ago. The Federal Government could have achieved so much more for their $1billion – it’s a missed opportunity, the value of which is probably many times more than $1billion.

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