Tuesday, January 22, 2013

35 mm Film And the Electronic Medical Record


Do you remember 35 mm cameras? They produced some of the most iconic images of the last century, and their portability, precision, and durability made them the tool of choice for both serious amateurs and professionals alike. But what really made them so powerful was the easy access, quality, and reliability of 35mm film. You could walk into any shop from Boston to Bombay (excuse me, Mumbai nowadays) grab a pack of TriX  or  Kodachrome  and you knew exactly what you were getting. And of course, you took it for granted that the film fit in the damn camera. I have no idea how such a standard between camera manufacturers and film makers was adopted, but I can't imagine it was accomplished by government fiat.

Contrast that with the current chaos of the mad push to an electronic medical record. Four hundred different vendors, each with its own product completely incompatibly with everyone else.  Each with its own mind numbing and illogical learning curve. I used to be able to write an order in a patient's chart in 30 seconds. Now it takes me a minute just to log on. What's more, the EMR is a bonanza for malpractice lawyers because they can  track every interrogation into the chart with regards to exactly when and for how long you entered a particular record. On the good side, to be fair, it does allow for dissemination and rapid retrieval of old records and test results.

So I'm with you on this one. We docs need to do a much better job of making medical information portable and accessible. It would have been much more preferable for a set of universal standards to emerge organically



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