Getting Electronic Medical Records Right

Currently, only 1.5% of U.S. hospitals have electronic records systems covering all their clinical units; an additional 7.6% have systems in at least one such hospital unit (Jha et al. 2009).  This low EMR usage rate is astounding, especially since the RAND Corporation found that using EMR could save up to $77 billion annually.  The Wilson Quarterly notes that the Obama administration has promised to invest $19 billion in order to institute electronic medical records in the U.S.  Problem solved?

Not so fast.  In a world where technology changes at warp speed will government-certified EMR systems soon become obsolete.  Will hospitals decide to go for the HDVD version of EMR when a “BlueRay” EMR will emerge victorious?  Instead, a paper by Mandl and Kohane use the Apple iPhone as a more flexible model for an EMR platform.  An EMR that would allow additional “apps” would allow for a more flexible EMR standard.  However, balancing this flexibility with patient privacy needs and a common EMR language for all hospitals and clinics remains a significant challenge.


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