Shari Roan of the Los Angeles Times thinks that "[i]f ever a case was made for electronic health records, perhaps this is it." The reason? A Canadian study of over 3,000 patients on the subject of continuity of care and patient/doctor communication. The primary finding of that study is that when tracking records, only 22% of them are available between visits to two or more health care providers. That's roughly one fifth; not much continuity in the care there.
Via Ms. Roan's article:
"We believe that poor exchange of information between physicians caring for the same patient may be detrimental to the quality of patient care," said the authors of the study, from the Ottawa Health Research Institute. Sometimes, doctors use hand-written notes that are difficult to transfer, the study noted. Other times, doctors aren't aware of visits to other doctors or they may think the records from previous visits aren't necessary.If all physicians and other health care providers have to access the same consistent system in order to read a person's medical records, the chance of data slipping through the cracks reduces drastically. Once the immediate rush of post-election craziness dies down, I look forward to seeing what our new Commander-in-Chief plans to do in regards to EMRs. At least we knew going into it that both sides backed the idea from the beginning.
SOURCE: "Canadian doctors don't share their patients' records either" 11/03/08
Photo courtesy of Sirkully used under its Creative Commons license