…the report neglected one powerful incentive for the switch to electronic records: the resulting databases of clinical information are gold mines for medical research. The monitoring and analysis of electronic medical records, some scientists say, have the potential to make every patient a participant in a vast, ongoing clinical trial, pinpointing treatments and side effects that would be hard to discern from anecdotal case reports or expensive clinical trials.
I am a huge fan of digital records…in theory.
The ease of use, increased efficiency and hopeful cost savings should be terrific. On the other hand the cost savings have yet to materialize and the initial attempts at a universal EHR (electronic health record) have been plagued by turf wars and petty bureaucracy.
However as the linked article points out one of the most promising benefits of EHR is the accumulation of data that could lead to better health care.
I am enough of a Pollyanna to believe it will all eventually be worked out yet at the same time enough of a pragmatist to see that the current system is deeply dysfunctional and unlikely to miraculously work perfectly come the magic EHR deadline of 2014.