Hardware

E-medical record systems won't happen and it's not because of privacy issues

If financial institutions can access all of a person's spending history at the touch of a few keys,then why is the medical industry lagging so far behind in regard to our e-medical files? Is it just a matter of money?

If financial institutions can access all of a person's spending history at the touch of a few keys, then why is the medical industry lagging so far behind in regard to our e-medical files? Is it just a matter of money?

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There are a number of things that bother me, from a patient's point of view, about health care in America. First of all, why is it that every single time I go to my doctor, the nurse asks if I have any medication allergies? And why do I have to tell them every single time that, yes, I'm allergic to penicillin? What if I fell in the door of the doctor's office and lost consciousness amidst all those old magazines and pens emblazoned with the names of pharmaceutical companies and couldn't answer the allergy question? Would they be forced to actually turn a page in my medical file and look for the info themselves?

Second, when I visit a doctor, I'm always asked for a list of medications I'm taking. I understand that this a measure to prevent a bad drug interaction with anything that doctor prescribes, but what if I were 103 years old and a little foggy on what I'm taking?

Wouldn't it be nice if we each had an electronic medical database? An administrator would just type a name and up would pop our relevant information like the Properties dialog box of a computer app (but instead of listing size in bytes, it would be pounds). It would also list when we were Created (birth date), Modified (surgeries), and Accessed (last medical visit).

Well, the truth is we do have the technology for this. The problem is that the technology is expensive, and there is no financial incentive for most health care providers to invest in it. So for now, the safety of our health rests on the quality of memories and the doctor's FAX machine.

I know I'm responsible for my personal health information, but honestly, I can't keep track of the strength and dosages of medications I've taken, or the year I had my tonsils out. In fact, I lost access to most of my childhood medical details when my mom passed away.

If someone out there works in the medical IT field, can you let me know what the hold up is?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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