Sunday, April 22, 2007

Paperless Medicine - Health For Life - MSNBC.com

Paperless Medicine - Health For Life - MSNBC.com: "things do not reliably happen because your doctor and the health-care system still largely use paper to communicate. This paper is shuttled from one hospital to another, often doesn't arrive on time and sometimes doesn't show up at all. Some of the most important information is written in longhand, and how legible is your doctor's handwriting? We now spend nearly $2 trillion a year on the preservation of our health. Yet we still rely primarily on antiquated record-keeping.

Fortunately, there is a growing movement to change that, using electronic information technology. While only 24 percent of providers today use electronic health records in their offices, that figure is increasing rapidly. More doctors are using computers to order diagnostic tests and treatments. Gradually, institutions are building systems with common coding systems that allow them to exchange data.

In our view, the single most important benefit of electronic records is that they make it possible to deliver information to your doctor at the moment he is making decisions about your care. Instead of having to read through what can be hundreds of pages in your medical record to find a particular test result, he now has the data available in an instant."

There are 2 ways of achieving this goal.

1. Top-down, where the government provides the funding to implement this on a nationwide system, as the NHS is trying to do in the UK ( and failing miserably)

2. Bottom-up, where individual doctors, hospitals, clinics and patients do this for themselves. I feel this is far more likely to be succcessful and effective , if we adopt the open-source model.

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