If we want EHRs to have a substantive impact on healthcare, they need to be regionally standardized and consolidated.
Today, we have a plethora of new EHR systems – Allscripts, Epic, GE, ADP, and MediTouch are just a few of the many brands available. As a relatively new market opportunity, there are bound to be hundreds of offerings from all sorts of companies, big and small. Navigating this sea would be difficult for any physician pressed for time. A recent study on EHR adoption in New York, the state with the most incentives for EHR implementation, showed that even hospitals had adoption rates no higher than 25%. If the big budget hospitals can’t adopt it, why would independent physicians?
What’s more interesting, however, is the incompatibility between the market economics of emerging EHRs and the realities of medicine. Medicine, at its core, is about sharing helpful information through uniform and easily accessible scientific channels. Free market capitalism is essentially a competition for dollars that leads to product diversification and stratification over a long period of time. With the introduction of 32 million newly insured patients with the Affordable Care Act of 2010, the need for streamlined patient information is greater than ever before. If EHRs are going to flourish in the rapidly expanding world of medicine, we’re going to have to quickly implement two very anti-capitalistic initiatives: standardization and consolidation. I’ll explain momentarily.
Medical history is a mobile platform that moves with the patient. Considering the extent to which patients see various specialists, physicians need to employ patient-centric records that are easily transferred from one physician to the next in any clinical setting. This means a patient’s information from a primary care physician’s office should seamlessly integrate with whichever hospital or clinic that patient visits.
What makes more sense is employing a uniform EHR throughout a geographic area such as a large city or county. As you expand the geographic boundary requiring a uniform EHR within, physicians practicing in that area will have an easier time consulting at hospitals and clinical local to them. No time will be wasted learning new program interfaces, which translates into more time with patients.
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