My Pre-clinical Med Student Perspective:
Why is this a debate? Why is it even an issue? Why wouldn’t all medical records be electronic already? Are you telling me we live in an age where I can do all my banking online, even depositing checks without leaving my bed – and yet there are still hospitals where orders are written manually, in handwriting so terrible it causes thousands of deaths each year?
The only logical explanations for this I can dream up are 1) healthcare bureaucracy is about as efficient and timely as an asthmatic snail, and 2) there’s a lot of attendings who feel that EMRs are “too confusing” or “easily hacked”.
Since I can’t do a damned thing about #1, I’m going to argue point #2.
First, the danger of “computer hacking” is vastly overplayed. We’ve got to at least try to keep it in perspective: I can don my short white coat and stethoscope and stroll into any teaching hospital in America and simply open a paper chart. I can read it completely without anyone questioning my presence in the slightest – they’re used to random med students they don’t recognize.
So “hacking” into completely non-electronic, 100% paper charts is – like 90% of success in life – simply a matter of walking confidently and wearing nice clothes. And as xkcd reminds us, you can just buy lab coats.
At least hacking into EMRs will require some relative work.
As far as EMRs being “too confusing”, though – I have to admit, I have some sympathy for these guys. They’re usually the same attendings you see concentrating like hawks on their keyboard as they type each e-mail letter. by. single. letter.
But as frustrating as that is to watch, I just have to remind myself that touch-typing wasn’t required for their generation. It was a new, fancy thing after their time that was no doubt both really popular and really annoying.
It’d be like if I became an attending and the standard of care turned into… I don’t know… rapidly texting HPIs (12 year olds would fall over laughing at my texting speed), or… other popular things I don’t understand. (Skrillex. Twilight. Drop-crotch pants.)
Unfortunately, EMRs have to be implemented sometime, and there’s always going to be an older generation who isn’t used to working with them. And they’re always going to complain – I mean, I sure as hell would – so it’s not a valid argument.
In short: EMRs are logically the next step in healthcare and will benefit practically everyone once they get used to using them. Forever and ever, amen.
My 3rd Year Medical Student Perspective:
GOD HELP ME, IF I GET ONE MORE ALERT OUT OF THIS COMPUTER I’M GONNA RIP OUT EVERY USB CORD IN ITS BODY AND USE THEM TO STRANGLE ITS SMUG-LOOKING SCREEN TO DEATH.