In response to reader commentary:
Nearly all of my physician colleagues would agree with Dr. Dennis Y. Fongs contention that many clinical information technology systems do not blend well with a clinicians natural workflow. This concept definitely needs research and improvement. And I would grant that health IT for its own sake should not be an end in itself, but a means to a greater end: more effective and efficient care delivery. However, labeling such systems as dangerous because they adversely impact "physician time efficiency" is hyperbole. What danger is created? Some of the rest of his comments are disingenuous and self-serving.
The problem of "solving physician handwriting legibility issues," while not trivial, is hardly the only factor which will allow a competently designed health IT system to improve patient safety. What about, for example, drug interaction and dosage alerts? By preventing "duplication of tests," costs can not only be lowered, but patient safety "markedly improved." We have seen many instances when CT scansa fairly expensive "test"are repeated within a few hours. Each scan not only exposes the patient to a high level of radiationof particular concern for pediatric patientsbut scans using contrast media can result in an allergic reaction to the contrast agents and discomfort to the patient because of their mode of administration. Our hospital has launched an improvement project to reduce unnecessary CTs.
I would also remind him of the recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine that demonstrated a positive correlation between the use of health IT systems and patient outcomes including mortality and complications as well as cost.
Given the choice between two equally skilled clinicians, one of whom uses an electronic record and one who doesn't, I and many other patients would choose the former. There is an aphorism about babies and bathwater.
Michael MundorffProgram managerSystem improvementPrimary Children's Medical CenterSalt Lake City To submit a letter to the Modern Physician Reader Blog, click here. Please include your name, title, company and hometown. Modern Physician reserves the right to edit all submissions.