Electronic medical record boosts quality, efficiency

CHICAGO--Ten years ago, Douglass A. Morrison, MD, PhD, FSCAI, was none too enthusiastic about the electronic medical record (EMR) being developed by the Department of Veterans Affairs for use throughout its health system.

"I thought we would spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer screen, and it would take us away from patients," said Dr. Morrison, who directs the cardiac catheterization laboratory at the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System in Tucson, and is a professor of medicine at the University of Arizona. "Today I think the electronic medical record enables us to take better care of patients--and to do it more consistently."

Dr. Morrison will talk about why he changed his view at a special symposium on the electronic medical record being held at the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) 29th Annual Scientific Sessions in Chicago, May 1013. He will be joined by co-chairs James E. Tcheng, MD, FSCAI, and Bonnie H. Weiner, MD, FSCAI, as well as representatives from Kaiser Permanente and major EMR vendors.

Not all skeptics have become fans. Electronic medical records are costly, implementation can be difficult and disruptive, not all software is as seamless and user-friendly as it should be, vendors come and go, and the road to universal standards has been long. And, since many physicians practice in multiple hospital systems in addition to their own practices, integration can be challenging.

Some of the EMR systems currently in use result in a significant shift in clerical work to physicians. In addition, cardiology is a field that depends heavily on graphics, such as electrocardiograms, echocardiograms (ultrasound), and angiograms, but many EMR programs cannot yet import or even view graphics. Challenges remain in creating interfaces between existing hospital systems and the EMR that will take further development to overcome. Furthermore, research on medical errors has not consistently shown

Contact: Kathy Boyd David
Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions

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