Looked at one way, the more data a doctor has, the better. After all, doctors are trained to sift effortlessly through thousands of data points and head inerringly for ones that matter most. And if that’s true, well, EMRs should be the greatest thing ever to happen to medicine.
Well…not really, according to Dr. Westby G. Fisher, who feels that floods of EMR data are actually causing big problems.
There’s so much data that we risk doctors becoming lost in it. It is entirely possible that we are in danger of not being able to find our most important clinical signals amongst the noise and clutter of all the data.
It’s not just that EMRs are set up to deliver excess information to doctors, Dr. Fisher says. It’s also that EMRs have to be the Swiss Army Knife of medicine, offering something unique for nurses, administrators, geeks, the government, legal system and more. What that means is data, data and more data, he notes.
In his view, the programmers who are rolling out EMRs and implementing Meaningful Use requirements may be brilliant, but they’re nearly clueless when it comes to understanding how doctors actually interact with patients. What happens he notes in an inarguable aside, is that as programmers respond to requirements, they pile on all kinds of junk which ruins the physicians’ user experience: “buttons, flags, optios, icons, colors, warning alerts and (if we’re lucky) text.”
What about having so-called “scribes” enter the data, logically and simply, so doctors can just review, study and diagnose? Not much help, as all that does is move doctors a small step above being data entry clerks, Dr. Fisher says: “With such a model, aren’t we just changing our doctors from data entry to quality assurance personnel?”
Folks, some of these are arguments you’ve heard before, but I still think Dr. Fisher makes some really important points. If you too wonder whether EMRs — in their current form at least — are bad for the medical profession, check his piece out. It’s worth a read.