How to Break an Already Dysfunctional Marketplace

I haven’t made it a secret in these posts that I’m a big fan of electronic health records (EHRs).  I think they improve patient care, and I think that paper medical charts will eventually go the way of the vinyl LP.  (For those of you born after 1980, I’m referring to an archaic music recording medium.  Yes, even more archaic than the CD.) I’ve also written before about the very slow rate of adoption of EHRs by physicians.  Well, it turns out hospitals are no better.  A study in this week’s More

Healthcare Reform

The New England Journal of Medicine and the Massachusetts Medical Society released a video this week of a panel discussion on U.S. health policy.  I thought it was a fascinating and intelligent discussion by representatives of all the stakeholders in the debate.  The discussion covers many topics critical to American healthcare, including the dwindling numbers of primary care physicians, adoption of electronic medical records, providing care to the tens of millions of uninsured, and the...
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Only 4% of American Physicians Have Electronic Health Records

This week, a large national survey of physicians' use of electronic health records (EHRs) was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.  The results generated a lot of attention in the general media. The good news is that physicians with EHRs are largely very satisfied with them and believe that EHRs improve patient care.  The bad news is that nationally only 4% of doctors use EHRs.  The largest barrier cited as preventing physicians from adopting EHRs is the expense. In any o...
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How Much Good Do Cholesterol Drugs Do?

Last month BusinessWeek had a fascinating article about cholesterol-lowering medications.  The article also teaches us how we should calculate a specific medication's benefit and harm, and how pharmaceutical companies manipulate our opinions by reporting benefits in percentages but side effects in absolute numbers.  If you want an interesting lesson in evidence-based medicine, or just in cholester...
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Does Your Doctor Use an Electronic Health Record?

This week's New England Journal of Medicine publishes a health policy report about electronic health records (EHRs).  The article reviews the potential benefits of EHRs to patients and to physicians and laments that as of 2005 only about 23% of physicians used them. The reasons for the slow adoption of EHRs provide an instructive illustration of deep problems in our healthcare marketplace.  EHRs are exp...
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Computer Aided Mammography Interpretation Not Ready for Prime Time

Most of my patients know that I'm a big fan of technology.  From electronic medical records to viewing diagnostic images over the web, I love finding tools that help me take better care of patients.  A study in this week's New England Journal of Medicine is an important cautionary tale that reminds us that new technologies should always be tested rigorously. The study examined the use of a technology ca...
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Electronic Prescribing Improves Care

SureScripts is a company that allows physicians' offices to send prescriptions to pharmacies electronically. It works with most electronic medical records (EMR) systems, including the EMR our office uses. A recent article on eWeek.com reviewed SureScrips' efforts to increase the number of physicians that are sending prescriptions electronically. There are many benefits of avoiding handwritten prescriptions. Legibi...
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Electronic Medical Records Improve Patient Care

In his State of the Union Address this week, the President specifically praised electronic medical records.
We will make wider use of electronic records and other health information technology, to help control costs and reduce dangerous medical errors.
Our office has had electronic medical records from the day we opened, three years ago. I believe that electronic records make possible improveme...
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