re: As More Docs Use Digital Records, So Will Consumers
I love computers and technology in general, but only when they improve my life, not when they complicate it.
As a primary care physician, there are many reasons we still prefer paper charts. First of all, paper never "goes down". It is always there, even if you lose power, have a computer problem, or there's a glitch in a program. Second, it is never available for intrusion by hackers. If you're not online, no one can get to your patients' files, files, or demographic information. (How many times have we read of someone who left a laptop somewhere, compromising the privacy of thousands of people?) Third, no one is charging you crazy fees for their proprietary programs or support, and there's no monthly fees, other than paper, which doesn't cost that much. We never have to worry about the company that supplies our EMR going out of business, being bought (and closed down), having an expensive upgrade, or changing to a format we don't like.
EHRs also take a lot of time (and not just at adoption, where everyone is always miserable -- ask any office) because the doctor has to answer certain questions, not necessarily in the order or way we would typically ask them. At the hospital, for example, in the time it takes to sign-in through multiple password screens I could have picked up a patient's chart, read it, and written orders. It also forces me to spend time on routine data entry (ordering on the computer, rather than having the unit clerk do it) thus obligating the key person in your organization to spend a significant portion of his or her day on secretarial work. It should be obvious that this is not efficient or cost-effective way.
I use technology extensively throughout my practice, with Dragon Naturally Speaking for my patient files, Allscripts for e-prescribing, and Quest & LabCorp lab records online. But putting all of my information online is not the cure-all for health care that its backers suggest, and raises as many issues as it solves, particularly with regard to guarding the privacy of patient records. (If the Pentagon can be hacked, what makes you think your medical records can't be?)
So instead of wondering why doctors aren't willingly embracing EHRs, Ms. McGee, perhaps it would be better to ask yourself why hundreds of thousands of pretty smart people feel it isn't a good idea. Or better still, ask yourself which you prefer, your doctor looking you in the eye when you talk to her, or watching her type on a keyboard for the entire visit. Enough said.