Across the national spectrum of health care politics there is broad agreement that moving patient records into the computer age, [...] is essential to improving care and curbing costs.
A paper record is a passive, historical document. An electronic health record can be a vibrant tool that reminds and advises doctors. It can hold information on a patient’s visits, treatments and conditions, going back years, even decades. It can be summoned with a mouse click, not hidden in a file drawer in a remote location and thus useless in medical emergencies.
Modern computerized systems have links to online information on best practices, treatment recommendations and harmful drug interactions. The potential benefits include fewer unnecessary tests, reduced medical errors and better care so patients are less likely to require costly treatment in hospitals.
The widespread adoption of electronic health records might also greatly increase evidence-based medicine. Each patient’s records add to a real-time, ever-growing database of evidence showing what works and what does not. The goal is to harness health information from individuals and populations, share it across networks, sift it and analyze it to make the practice of medicine more of a science and less an art.
The full article is well worth the read.