Healthcare IT publications like to hop all over a story that talks about the negative side effects of EHR or some other technology in healthcare. The train wreck is something that people love to read about and so publications love to lather up the story and report all of the problems and challenges a hospital faces when going electronic.
This isn’t an awful thing. We should be aware of the challenges related to implementing technology in healthcare. Hopefully that extra exposure will help us to improve the technology so it’s no longer an issue. However, we have to be careful to not skew our view of technology based on what’s being reported by the healthcare IT publications we read.
The problem with basing our assessment of something on the media is that it’s not exciting for them to report on benefits that have become part of the status quo. No one’s going to read the article that says lives are saved because a doctor can read the chart since it was typed as opposed to illegibly written on paper. Being able to actually read the chart has become so common place, that we’ve started to take it for granted. Medical students today might never have the opportunity to read paper medical hieroglyphics. That’s a fantastic thing, but it doesn’t make for a good story.
It’s almost like we ignore the benefits once they become part of the fabric of how we practice medicine. Plus, we don’t even think about the negative consequences we’ve avoided. As someone told me recently, “No one gets paid for the crisis they averted.”
As part of our analysis, we have to remember to compare the status quo to the alternative and not to the ideal. That’s not to say that we don’t continue to strive for the ideal. We absolutely should push towards it. However, it does mean that we keep a proper perspective on reality and don’t forget the past.