Electronic Records Could Increase Costs, Decrease Quality
Bringing electronic health records "to the current broken health care system could increase costs, decrease quality and push the practice of medicine further away from human interaction," Dr. Michael Wilkes, professor of medicine at the University of California-Davis, writes in a Sacramento Bee opinion piece.
"Admittedly, other industries have seen large cost savings from computerization, but health care is different," Wilkes writes. He notes that "each hospital system and doctor's office today has a unique [EHR] that stands completely on its own and won't talk to another's computers." He added that there "is no push for cooperation" among vendors.
It is "entirely reasonable to expect" health IT, such as electronic reminders, to improve quality, according to Wilkes. However, research has shown that physicians ignore 75% of electronic reminders, he writes.
In addition, electronic documentation "has a potential for electronic forgery and dishonesty that allows for increased billing and quick note production but may do nothing to improve patient care," according to Wilkes.
Wilkes concludes, "Before we spend more money on these electronic holy grails, let's first look for data showing that in the real world they can achieve important goals other than simply improved billing" (Wilkes, Sacramento Bee, 1/20).