Lou Gehrig's Disease - Motor Neuron Disease - Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Thought it had been cured by now? Still no known cause. Still no cure. Still quickly fatal. Still outrageous.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Is This The Smart Way To Collect The ALS Dots?

File Under ‘Hodgepodge’
We need a national system of electronic medical records.
Jerry Adler
From the magazine issue dated May 18, 2009

A major change is occurring in medical record keeping, driven by the embarrassing realization that until now the information systems that keep track of Americans' cancer treatments have mostly lagged behind the ones they use to buy movie tickets online.
In health-care think tanks there is frustration bordering on panic over the danger that the nation will miss a historic opportunity if millions of American doctors adopt a hodgepodge of stand-alone systems that don't readily communicate with each other. "Whatever is done has to be accompanied by a whole series of other changes," says Shannon Brownlee, Schwartz senior fellow for the New America Foundation, which is in the forefront of studying this issue. "There are a whole series of good little ideas in health care now, but if each is implemented separately it won't add up to an improvement. We'll end up digitizing a really bad system."

At a minimum, experts say, a national electronic health-records system should do the following:
• Permit immediate electronic information exchange between doctors, saving time on taking patients' history and money on tests or X-rays that may have already been performed.
• Replace handwritten prescriptions with an electronic network linking doctors and pharmacies. This would reduce mistakes, save time wasted on phone calls back and forth and enable automated warnings of drug interactions and drug sensitivities.
• Facilitate "data mining" for information about new (or existing) treatments. A new drug undergoes elaborate trials for years before it goes on the market, involving hundreds or perhaps thousands of subjects—and then gets dispensed, potentially, to millions of patients. How it affects them is potentially lifesaving information that now gets reported anecdotally and spreads by word of mouth, if at all. But a computer that aggregated the findings of large numbers of doctors could detect rare problems, or even unexpected benefits....
• And, finally, establish standards of care for disease against which actual treatments can be measured

Should we be advocating for good electronic medical records (done right) for a lot of reasons?

No comments:

Post a Comment