Saying “I hate EMRs” is like saying, “I hate seafood.” There are just too many kinds to make sweeping generalizations.
I remember when I first heard the idea of using computers in a medical office. Back in the late 70′s we had a VIC-20 at home*, and at school we had a TRS 80. Personal computers were starting to be affordable by individuals (instead of those building-size contraptions only available to universities or large corporations). The doctors for whom my mom worked were excited about the possibility of typing a patient’s symptoms into the computer and having a differential diagnosis print out. Others scoffed at the notion, but nonetheless, people were starting to think that computers might be able to help in a medical setting.
Fast forward about twenty-five years. The first time I saw a doctor using a computer for patient records was a good experience. Instead of coming into the exam room with a paper chart, the Dr. Foote walked in with a laptop computer. He loved his “new toy” as he called it. The appointment went about the way a typical doctor’s appointment would go, but at the end, instead of writing notes in a paper chart, the doctor typed a few things into his computer. On our way out, the receptionist handed us a typed prescription. A fan of legibility, I thought that prescriptions printed from the computer were a fabulous idea.
Dr. Foote no longer carries a laptop into exam rooms. He obviously reviews the patients’ charts before entering the exam rooms empty-handed. He does whatever is needed, then returns to his desk to do his charting (computerized) before going on to the next patient.
From this patient’s perspective, it’s a process that works well. It’s interesting that he does the same thing my family physicians does while using paper charts.
- they review past history before coming into the room
- they knows why I’m there
- they focus on talking to me, not the chart (whether computer or paper)
I wish my other doctors who use EMRs did it as efficiently.
Have you had positive experiences with EMR?
*upgraded to a Commodore 64 when I was in high school