[July 10, 2007 @ 6:46 am] David Catron

Some politicians and intellectually lazy policy wonks would have us believe that electronic medical records possess magical powers. If the United States will just adopt EMR wholesale, they tell us, many of the problems plaguing American health care will evaporate.

If your instincts tell you that this is just a little too easy, you should listen. An analysis published in the Archives of Internal Medicine indicates that the glib evangelists of EMR are … well … full of BS. In actual practice, EMR turns out to have no significant effect on quality of care:

For 14 of the 17 quality indicators, there was no significant difference in performance between visits with vs without EHR use.

Reuters reports on that this outcome was something of surprise to the researchers themselves:

“We did expect practices (with electronic medical records) would have better quality of care,” said Dr. Randall Stafford of Stanford University. “They really performed about the same,” he said in a telephone interview.

These findings, combined with the EMR concerns discussed here, suggest that policy makers and health care wonks should quit proposing magic bullets and get down to the serious work of health reform.

Add a comment

To prevent spam, you will need to enter the two words below before your post is accepted: