EMR: Electronic Medical Records or Extraordinarily Malicious Requirements?

It was with a heavy heart that I left the Notre Dame campus just a short while ago. The feeling was rather absurd because I have just this afternoon returned but I know I will experience the same feelings at the end of June. Why have I returned to Notre Dame, you ask? To play in the dirt, of course! I am thrilled to spend the next three weeks working on the Bailey Homestead excavation here in northern Indiana. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let me fill you in on what has been going on for the past month.

I was lucky enough to shadow my own primary care physician a few days a week these past four weeks. In just a short time, I have learned so much about medicine and the life of a physician. I also discovered three dreaded letters: E-M-R better known as electronic medical records. My first day on the job just happened to coincide with the second day of launching eClinicalWorks, one of many EMR programs.

Now, the common consensus states that EMR is the way of the future and will make everything easier on physicians. In the long run, sure, I can see it speeding up appointments and keeping things organized. However, on the short term, every single patient is a new patient. Even if they have been seeing the same doctor for thirty years, they are required to give their entire family history during their visit. Couple that with staff who were not raised with computers and it tends to cause a large headache.

Some physicians won’t have too much difficulty with this because they have only a few patients who return every few weeks. But for family medicine physicians, some patients only have to come in every six months! This means that the transition will last for over six months, providing that all patients keep their appointments. It seems a big hassle now, but I still bear a shred of hope.

Even so, there are other issues with EMR. Doctors are some of the highest employing bosses. They need lab technicians, diagnoses coders, medical record keepers and more. With the advent of EMR, most of these roles are becoming automated. A nurse will not need to call down to medical records for a chart when a few clicks will pull it up. Nurses won’t be needed to call patients with lab results when they are securely posted online and emailed.

I’m not sure about ObamaCare…it may benefit us in the end but from the evidence I’ve seen, I don’t like it.

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