I think one topic that has gotten a lot of coverage in regards to EMR is its ability to prevent medical errors. I read an article from the NY Sun that said, “between 44,000 and 98,000 Americans die each year from medical errors.” I think the argument of lives is a hard one to quantify because I think we’d all agree that even one life saved is worth it. The real question lies in our ability to quantify whether lives were saved because of EMR or not. That’s very difficult and I expect over the next couple years there will be studies done showing how many people lost lives because of EMR’s. Just a hunch.
I think the thought of saving lives is great, but I think there could be a related issue in regards to extending people’s lives and improving their quality of life. EHR has the serious potential to be able to do many of these things by giving patients better information on how to manage their health. What about adding excercise and other health education topics to an EHR in order to promote the well being of your patients. This could all be done electronically and encouraged by the doctor.
One other idea that was raised in the article linked above was, “The federal government estimates that nationwide electronic health records would save the health care industry $140 billion a year.” The real question is who is going to take that money home, the insurance companies, the doctors or the patient? In reality, in order to have those savings it is going to cost to implement the EMR and so in the short term no one is going to save. Eventually I can see EMR saving patients money or more importantly slow the ever rising cost of healthcare.