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The hurdles facing electronic medical records

Henry Lowe, MD, the chief information officer at the School of Medicine, discusses the hurdles to the adoption of electronic medical records in today's Inside Stanford Medicine. One thing that stands out from the discussion is a reminder that the technology, alone, won't produce major benefits - the culture and workflow in medicine, he says, must also change to maximize their effectiveness. Lowe says:

As with any new technology, there is a learning curve that must be overcome. In the case of physician order entry, unanticipated consequences may arise and need to be addressed before benefits are realized. In some cases, this process has taken months, or even years, and has sometimes required a profound restructuring of clinical workflow, or modification of the system itself.

The benefits are likely to become evident only after practitioners have had some time to familiarize themselves with the new tools, become proficient in their use and adapt their workflows accordingly.

Lowe is the senior author of a study in the Journal of Intensive Care Medicine looking at the change within the intensive care units of hospitals from the traditional handwritten physician order notes to computerized physician order entry.

Previously: Data mining in electronic health records could reveal unexpected patterns and Analysis of meaningful use rule calls it a "defining moment"

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