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November 09, 2012 12:30 PM The Cost of Information Technology

By Aaron Carroll

A few people sent this on to me, and so I share it with you. From JAMA, “The Cost of Technology“:

No one was more surprised than the physician himself. The drawing was unmistakable. It showed the artist—a 7-year-old girl—on the examining table. Her older sister was seated nearby in a chair, as was her mother, cradling her baby sister. The doctor sat staring at the computer, his back to the patient—and everyone else. All were smiling. The picture was carefully drawn with beautiful colors and details, and you couldn’t miss the message. When he saw the drawing, the physician wrote a caption for it: “The economic stimulus bill has directed $20 billion to health care information technology, largely funding electronic medical record incentives. I wonder how much this technology will really cost?”

© 2011 Thomas G. Murphy, MD.

More:

So it came as a stunning piece of feedback—not surprisingly out of the crayon of a babe—that his patients might be seeing him in a new way since the rollout of the electronic medical record. From my perspective of 20 years practicing and teaching primary care pediatrics and internal medicine and more than two years into juggling the needs of patients with those of the computer, this child’s drawing powerfully expressed the deep frustration and concern of many physicians, including me.

No one is more for information technology in health care than I. But it’s important to remember that everything has tradeoffs, and that we need to work to minimize the potential downsides of electronic medical records in the practice of medicine.

[Cross-posted at The Incidental Economist]

Aaron Carroll ,MD, is an associate professor of Pediatrics and the associate director of Childrenís Health Services Research at Indiana University School of Medicine.

Comments

  • Karl Weber on November 10, 2012 12:37 PM:

    The anecdote implies (without saying it) that, prior to the advent of electronic medical records, most doctors were very good at developing close personal relationships with their patients, communicating openly, listening to patient concerns, and so. Unfortunately, many studies of actual doctor practice as well as countless patient experiences demonstrate that it just isn't so. If doctors are really determined to practice in a patient-centered fashion, the new medical records systems won't prevent them from doing so.