Bolstered by the stimulus, there’s no doubt that there’s a significant push for doctors and hospitals to adopt digital medical records.
I’ve written before how we’re essentially throwing money at Windows 95 technology, but now, as an article from BusinessWeek points out, there’s a real danger in moving too fast.
Somewhat under-publicized were the incompatibilities with older systems in the Geisinger Health System, which after spending $35 million on software, noticed a spike medication errors that required another $2 million to fix.
Or what happened at the University of Pennsylvania, which found medication errors stemming from software designed to prevent mistakes.
Worse, there is no national database tracking the errors that are caused from electronic medical records. Because most of the programs are not open-source, confidentiality agreements meant to protect proprietary technology also serve to hide mistakes.
Ideally, these issues need to be resolved before throwing more money into bad technology. But, because of the intuitive notion that technology automatically improves health care, no one seems to be advocating a more cautious route which may, in actuality, better serve patients.
Better Health Editor’s Note: Please read this post for more in-depth coverage of how difficult it is to transfer health records electronically.