Today we discussed how electronic medical records (EMRs) can attribute to an unsafe healthcare system. I was surprised to learn that EMRs originally were implemented for patient safety reasons because throughout the progression of my medical school training, it became very clear to me that EMRs served more of a billing purpose than a safety purpose. As medical students, all of our notes have disclaimers at the top that they cannot be used for billing purposes. Residents receive talks one how to write note with the correct words so that billing can be done accurately. These things reinforce that EMRs are for billing and not for efficiency nor patient safety.
Before beginning residency, we are required to do online training on how to use EMR system at our hospitals. However, we do not receive any information about safety checks or even the information on failures of these systems. The scary part about when EMRs fail is that we sometimes do not realize the issue until a patient is harmed. I strongly believe that technology can be extremely beneficial in medicine and that health innovations can help make healthcare safer. However, technology advances in medicine are very far behind other fields, and this is very apparent in the EMRs with which we work. How do we improve a system that is not regulated and that has huge variability to be one that can utilize technological advances to be safer for our patients and more efficient for our caregivers?