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Thoughts, comments, news, and reflections about healthcare IT from Microsoft's worldwide health senior director Bill Crounse, MD, on how information technology can improve healthcare delivery and services around the world.

Electronic Medical Records--just part of needed transformation

Electronic Medical Records--just part of needed transformation

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"To improve the quality of our health care while lowering its costs, we will make the immediate investments necessary to ensure that within five years, all of America's medical records are computerized……This will cut waste, eliminate red tape and reduce the need to repeat expensive medical tests. But it just won't save billions of dollars and thousands of jobs, it will save lives by reducing the deadly but preventable medical errors that pervade our health care system."

    --President Elect, Barack Obama, January 8th, 2009

Yesterday, I was asked by ABC News to comment on the statement made by Mr. Obama during Thursday’s economic stimulus speech at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.  I was pleased to do so since it provided an opportunity to expand a bit on what I had to say in Monday’s post on HealthBlog; mainly that we need to broaden the discussion (and any investments to be made) to encompass not just electronic records, but how to truly transform and expand the ways we access health information and medical services in America.  You can read ABC’s coverage and my comments here:

President-Elect Urges Electronic Medical Records in 5 Years

Bill Crounse, MD   Senior Director, Worldwide Health   Microsoft Corporation

  • PingBack from http://www.codedstyle.com/electronic-medical-records-just-part-of-needed-transformation/

  • This is a great article and good comments from Dr. Bill Crounse at Microsoft. from ABC News.   If

  • The president is going to have to do better than that. While computerising medical records should reduce the medical errors, I very much doubt that healthcare costs will be reduced. It is more likely that increased IT investment and correspondingly increased IT expense to support these systems will result in higher operating expenses for the hospitals than ever before. Think of the IT support staff and hardware infastructure that will be needed to support all this.

  • Thanks for sharing your comment.  I agree, there is much more to reforming health in American than Electronic Medical Records.  Yes, there will be increased costs associated with these systems, but those costs are more than offset by improved efficiency, improved patient safety and care quality, reductions in duplicated tests, etc.  Besides, what other industry exists in 2009 that relies on paper processes?; certainly no industry of the scale and importance of healthcare.

    Bill Crounse, MD

  • I wish I could agree with you, but, unfortunately, I do not.

    Computerization of medical record is a necessary condition for going forward, however it is not sufficient one in reducing the expenses.

    Here is an example: http://healthcare-informatics.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=&nm=&type=Publishing&mod=Publications%3A%3AArticle&mid=8F3A7027421841978F18BE895F87F791&tier=4&id=5E61B931131B4806AEB19D13F9BC4B01.

    The article cites wonderful improvements in the patient flow indicators, yet, they're followed by:

    “Those were all good statistics, and we were able to incorporate them into our presentation to the board when we asked for more money,” says Colbert, who hopes to deploy the system at the new cardiology tower..."

    Asked for more money? Why not use the money realized from the improvements made? Ah, the improvements never translated into money..

    The problem is two-fold:

    (1) healthcare managers are resistant to reduce budgets;

    (2) we, the software vendors, do not design systems that are aimed specifically at reducing the operating expense through process improvement.

    It is difficult. It requires change - for both managers and us. And so far, there is very little evidence of the causality between computerization of medical records and lowering costs.

  • Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Igor.  There's a very good reason why I say "just part of needed transformation" in the headline.  EMRs are simply a means to an end, not the end itself.  But until healthcare data and work-flow processes are electronic and not trapped on paper, it will be very challenging to transform healthcare delivery in any meaningful way.

    Bill Crounse, MD

  • That I definitely agree with :-)

    i

  • I agree.  It's great what EMRs can do, but they can't solve all the health care problems, including costs.  There are so many more ways that the health care system can improve and there is always going to be a way to improve it.  Like you said, EMRs are just one way to improve the system.  

  • Yes , i agree with this answer :-

    Better example :- http://easy16.com/?p=106

    The article cites wonderful improvements in the patient flow indicators, yet, they're followed by:

    “Those were all good statistics, and we were able to incorporate them into our presentation to the board when we asked for more money,” says Colbert, who hopes to deploy the system at the new cardiology tower..."

    Asked for more money? Why not use the money realized from the improvements made? Ah, the improvements never translated into money..

    The problem is two-fold:

    (1) healthcare managers are resistant to reduce budgets;

    (2) we, the software vendors, do not design systems that are aimed specifically at reducing the operating expense through process improvement.

    It is difficult. It requires change - for both managers and us. And so far, there is very little evidence of the causality between computerization of medical records and lowering costs.

  • No doubt, I accept it... Sooner you will see a great discussion on the thing <a href="http://www.medicalrules.com/forums/">Here [...]</a>

  • The idea behind electronic health records is to have a computer-based history of a patient's clinical and administrative details. This will include every document made by each doctor that was ever involved with the patient's medical history.Therefor,the content is absolutely correct.

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