Electronic medical records: are they the enemy?

Posted on: 17.11.2016 Tags:


Electronic Medical Records

Medical records have always been part of the job and have helped physicians to better understand patients and to identify diseases. Medicine has evolved through enlightenment and puzzlement struggling into the physician’s mind for the patients’ sake.

Nowadays, medicine keeps on fighting many battles against confusion and the use of electronic medical records is a big one.

Since electronic medical records have become the standard, we physicians have been restrained to our own la-la-land.

When medical records were on paper, physicians were and felt free. Free to explain the patient condition, to organise and put down their cognitive process (the clinical method) whose purposes are to diagnose, to treat, and to set a prognosis. To accomplish this, the physician has to establish a bound to health relationship with his patient.

Keeping records avoids iteration in successive visits and helps to create the physician’s judgement.

Classic medical records

A white paper is more accurate to transcribe ideas and mind pathways. I remember myself drawing, making diagrams or underlining keywords. Paper records permitted to attach other information such as pictures, patient handwriting, children’s growing charts...

When it comes just to the doctor to patient relationship paper medical record seems the outright way to keep things tidy.

But “there are more things in medical records, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” Hamlet would advise. Keeping records serves other purposes too: the scientific study of disease and, the unromantic one, expenses accounting. Both of which need methods that dealwith data, numbers and statistics. This makes many doctors slightly skeptical.

The arrival of the computer

Computers seemed to be the solution to manage all this (unromantic) data. Not to disregard the advantage of getting rid of the infamous doctor handwriting.

Surprisingly enough, physicians hated electronic records. First, they needed to learn how to type. Second, one's expertise could not be naturally poured to an electronic record stuffed with forms, pull-down menus and mandatory fill in fields. Thirdly, attaching documents is a “mission impossible” most of the time.

Computers have improved enough to accomplish the physician needs, but te reality is stubborn. Medical research and economic issues are mandatory to measure health institutions quality while doctor-patient relationship is actually a plus, not a rule. So EMR serves well to researchers and investors, but the average clinician doesn't find any advantage to put his ideas on "electronics".

The mobile in my pocket helps me to perform my daily tasks. If a mobile can, a computer can!

What I want for Christmas

I want to personalise my electronic patient records. That’s all, nothings else.

I want to write without forms, fill in fields nor pull-down menus. If Google can translate keywords to neat data, why can’t my institution computer do it?

I want my digital print to open private data to finally get rid of all those passwords I forget and have to write down in insecure places. Just as Samsung or Apple do!

I want to reach any information just by clicking a hyperlink. Like elementary PDF programmess do.

I want to attach any kind of information to my records. Like WordPress or Blogger do.

I want time to listen to my patients, use my mind to do my job, which includes patient records. I need my allies back again.

María José Mas Salguero

Consultant Child Neurologist and Independent eHealth Advocate, Spain