Electronic health records are computerized versions of those old paper files you see at your doctor’s office. In an effort to trim the cost of health care, President Obama has pledge to support EHR use among more doctors.
In the course of other research, I had the opportunity to see the kinds of EHRs that are used in a major hospital. I was quite frankly appalled at the usability and wondered what kinds of mistakes, errors, and inefficiencies might occur with the wide scale use of such systems. This opinion piece from the Huffington Post agrees. The introduction of new technology to replace a well-used method is complex.
This is partially because the products are complex and require a great deal of training as they are built now. The worst are the industry leaders in use by many hospitals.
I completely agree. The system I saw was made by one of the biggest healthcare companies in the world, which of course I won’t name.
To make it more complex, the turnover in medical support personnel, front office and back office, is often frequent, so the training on these complicated products is ongoing and expensive. Support, services and training are the model by which some of these software companies increase their revenues.
Whenever I see the issue of Health care IT discussed, it is always about the nuts-and-bolts engineering issues such as interoperability (will the systems work and communicate together?). This is obviously important, but hopefully some discussion will be devoted to usability.