To Marty Eberhardt, it's "modern magic."
Eberhardt was recovering from surgery recently at 212-bed Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News, Va., when his nurse came in to give him his medication. She scanned the bar code on the medicine and the one on Eberhardt's hospital bracelet.
If there had been a problem, if it were the wrong drug, dose or time, the portable computer she wheeled in would have sent up an alert.
"They come at you with a little blinker," Eberhardt said. "It's so foolproof."
If only everything about electronic medical records were so simple.
President Bush has called for widespread use of EMRs by 2014. They are more efficient, they cut down on errors and they give physiciansand patientsinstant easy access to their medical histories, as well as the latest medical research.
"It makes me a better doctor," said Meredith Rose, vice chairman of Sentara Medical Group, which includes almost 300 physicians affiliated with Sentara Healthcare, Norfolk, Va., the region's largest healthcare provider.
Sentara is in the midst of a $237 million electronic medical-record initiative, and Bon Secours Health System, Marriottsville, Md., is investing $150 million. If they buy a bad system, or fail to train staff properly on its use, hospitals and physicians are looking at expensive flops that could make the traditional stacks of records held together in notebooks or manila folders look like a good alternativewhich may be why most hospitals and doctors still rely on paper.
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