One of my professional memberships is with an organization called the Physicians’ Electronic Health Record Coalition (PEHRC) where I serve as the newly elected Co-Chair. This organization of medical specialty societies helps to guide the futuristic goal of having all physicians in the United States use electronic health records (EHR) in their offices, and link these to many community resources including hospitals, laboratories, radiology centers, payers, pharmacies, patients, and other physicians. The use of this high technology has many advantages including accuracy, safety, and availability. They reduce your paperwork. They get your information accurately into the hands of the people who need it. We also are able to order laboratory tests and get results directly from the computer, leading to a much faster turn-around and the reduction of unnecessary testing. We can receive requests and send out prescriptions to pharmacies using this technology, a method that is called e-prescribing. They give you much more control of your health records and your health.
Steve Jobs, Apple Computer’s late visionary chief executive officer, was quoted as saying “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” He also said “We want to stand at the intersection of computers and humanism.” This has relevance in the work that is being done today in this new field.
I recently attending a meeting of the PEHRC in which we discussed two important topics in this field, usability, and patient engagement. Usability refers to the design of the different programs which are used for EHR, and how easy or difficult they are to use in a simple, effective way. There is still much work to be done to make the health record programs aid the goal of helping improve the quality of medical care. Patient engagement refers to how patients can learn more about their own health through access to their health information and also to educational topics that can give them insight to the problems they may have, and how to keep their good health in the future. Improving patient engagement will allow computers to serve people in much broader and important ways than what is available today.
Our government has a web site www.healthit.gov where you can learn more about how Health Information Technology can lead to a safer, better and more efficient health care for you. I encourage your to visit it and get a glimpse of the future of health care.
We are proud to be using this new technology in our office, and with your help it will become even more meaningful in the years to come.