Electronic health records need more attention to reach full potential

When Dr. Kathi McCree enters the exam room, she carries her tablet computer with the patient’s electronic medical record pulled up and ready to start the exam.

After she evaluates her patient and goes over her conclusions and orders, she enters her findings into the tablet, orders lab tests and writes prescriptions that are all filed electronically.

“It’s darn good medicine,” said McCree, a private practitioner in Webster, a Clear Lake-area suburb of Houston.

She’s still waiting, though, for the technology that will allow doctors, patients and hospitals around the country to work off the same file and guarantee safe, efficient and effective care. Her current system’s connectivity is limited.

“It’s only a little better than a fax machine,” she said.

Perverse incentives and a risk-averse industry have led health care providers to a purchase a mishmash of proprietary systems that do not communicate with each other and fail to deliver on a fraction of the promises of a portable, accurate electronic medical record.
July 22, 2014
Houston Chronicle