Bandwagon for electronic records rolls on

Summary:The fact is that EMRs will be expensive to implement, will be fraught with errors and security breaches, and will take many years to get right. No matter who does it. No matter how necessary they might be.

Bandwagon, from Norman Oklahoma school web siteThe bandwagon on behalf of electronic health records (EHRs) or electronic medical records (EMRs) as a "silver bullet" solution to America's health care crisis rolls on, despite growing reports of problems. (Picture from Norman, Oklahoma school system.)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is the latest to jump on, during an event in Oregon.

Pelosi said that EHRs are essential for lowering medical costs, reducing medical errors and improving care in rural areas.

Not to mention guaranteeing whiter teeth and fresher breath.

Barack Obama is also on-board, as he revealed when asked about health care during his appearance at Google last month. Perhaps he assumed that a Google audience would be friendly to a magic technology solution.

The news isn't all good for EHR supporters, however. A UK study by the BBC found several breaches of confidentiality, most committed by doctors and other medical staff. That country's NHS is supposed to have records for that country's 50 million people online by 2010.

Everyone who works in technology knows there is a vast difference between promise and reality. Claimed savings aren't captured overnight. Costs and mistakes inevitably precede them. Security risks are constant and real.

The fact is that EMRs will be expensive to implement, will be fraught with errors and security breaches, and will take many years to get right. No matter who does it. No matter how necessary they might be.

Yet somehow politicians of every type continue to claim that EHRs and EMRs will be immune to all this.

Small wonder people are cynical.

Topics: Health

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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