While Dr. J. Timothy Hanlon raises compelling issues about electronic medical records (EMRs), I think that his goslow approach can lead to lost opportunities. The push toward implementing EMR systems does not amount to a dangerous dive into a shallow pool. Rather, we should be optimistic that we are just learning to swim.
Addressing these concerns during these early years of the EMR is constructive and necessary. But his commentary may leave physicians wondering what to do. Should the EMR be scrapped until it is fully developed outside the clinical realm? Is that goal even attainable? Are physicians who use EMR systems putting patient care and information security at risk? I believe there is a more positive way to look at each of the issues.
No new technology comes into the world 100% formed and vetted. The nature of progress is evolution based on experience, as unforeseen problems are corrected. Skepticism and vigilance are warranted, but so is optimism.
Abelson TI. The electronic medical record: Learning to swim. Cleve Clin J Med. 2010 Jul;77(7):415-419.