It's still early days for electronic medical record systems, but a study published in Clinical Trials today shows how the VA Boston Healthcare System is using them to zero in on what treatments work best and get them to patients quicker. It's a really smart, less costly way to do clinical trials - it guides doctors to switch to the best treatment even before the trial is completed.
Our idea is that if systems of care like the VA can integrate implementation of research results directly into care, we will keep the decision-making where it belongs. It brings medical decision-making back down to expert physicians and their patients, and out of the political realm.
The catch is this kind of trial is feasible only when a large group of physicians are all using a common electronic medical record system. Lavori told me that only two institutions are in a position to do this kind of study today: the VA and Kaiser.