Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Paper beats electronic patient records

If this wasn't so shocking, I would be pleased to see that we had some significant new evidence on the efficacy of electronic patient records:
A leading academic has dealt a major blow to the Government's embattled electronic patient record rollout, after publishing a major global study claiming systems of its kind hamper rather than improve clinical care.

Professor Trisha Greenhalgh, professor of primary healthcare at University College London, led a review of hundreds of previous studies from all over the world, which found that large systems such as that being developed by Connecting for Health, are less efficient than locally-based systems and often less useful than paper records.

If only the Department of Health had engaged Professor Greenhalgh before they spent £4 billion on the NHS National Programme for IT. Or even just listened to their own accident and emergency clinicians, one of whom wrote earlier this week in the Daily Telegraph that:
When someone is brought in unconscious or unable to speak or give any history, the priority for the medical staff is to ensure they are physiologically stable — that they are breathing, their heart is beating and their blood pressure is adequate.

While background details are important, these are rarely the pressing concern when someone is in extremis. Yet the Government has repeatedly justified the ludicrously expensive NHS IT programme on the grounds that it is needed in precisely this situation. The reality is, it's not. Not only this, despite vast sums being spent, the system is not fit for purpose. Aside from the issues around confidentiality and the Government's refusal to allow people to opt out from having their personal details entered into the system, the whole thing has proved to be an ill-thought out, wasteful and unnecessary white elephant.

1 comment:

ponchojack said...

This is just not the case. Identity management and record access have alway, and will always subjicate to the crical care of the patient. BUT, often the critical care is dependent on knowing medical record information, especailly before administration of treatement, meds and anesthethia particularly. You are inferring the PMR access is complicated in an ER setting and that is just plain wrong. Yes, there are conversion pains and complications. Guess what, almost every other industry lived thorugh these pains decades ago. Its about time healthcare used every capability available to it, and not just what's in the clinicians head.