Wednesday, September 3, 2008

EMRs: My Thoughts in Exile

Regular readers have no doubt caught on to the fact that I am based in New Orleans. For the second time in three years this simple fact has caused me to take my family into exile as severe weather threatens my city. Gustav may have missed New Orleans, but his effects are felt by two million of us evacuated out of southern Louisiana.

The gridlock on the road was disturbing and constant. The A/C had to be switched off in order to conserve gasoline since there was no ready way to acquire more. Two of my cats almost died of heatstroke and my wife and I both became ill. Until last night, the prior three days had included only four hours dedicated to sleep, and those were spent on a friend's floor in the midst of numerous other refugees.

Now, as I sit in Ohio at my best friend's house, I think back on it. This is the second exodus that my family and I have undergone in the past three years. In the context of my work on this blog, it becomes especially meaningful. You see, if Electronic Medical Records were a universal standard, it could save lives in a situation like this.

Two million people evacuated according to the news. Two million including the elderly, the disabled and children. I know. I shared the road with them for endless hours as the southern heat beat down upon us. I had visions of medical emergencies occurring either on the road or when my fellows reach their destinations. For the most part, I would be willing to wager that medical records were often left behind. I know they were in our case.

If there were a solid standardized system in place to handle all of these records digitally, a lot of these issues would evaporate. What made me think of it was sitting here in Ohio on my friend's porch and having a wasp land on my arm. You see, I am highly allergic to insect stings. If it had tagged me, I would be on my way to the emergency room. EMRs would communicate this and my other allergies even if there was no one around to do so.

Think about it. I have often written about the way that EMRs would reduce medical costs, particularly admin costs. That is highly desirable. In the final analysis, it is the enhanced safety for my neighbors and friends that is of ultimate importance. Two million people. The newsman on CNN called it the largest evacuation in American history. That is in addition to those displaced by failing levees in the midwest and fires on the west coast.

They can save lives, and that, my friends, is the most important reason we need them.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.