Who is benefitting?
The complaint that introduction of incentives around this legislation has benefitted the vendors of EMR solutions rather than the medical community and healthcare users as a whole is best summed up by a quote in the article from Jonathan Bush, co-founder of the cloud-based firm Athenahealth, who states, "The biggest players drew this incredible huddle around the rule-makers and the rules are ridiculously favorable to these companies and ridiculously unfavorable to society". However, this rush to take financial advantage of new legislation can be seen in almost any industry, whether the legislation is lobbied for those who directly gain or not. The fact remains that the future of EMRs is bright with the potential for medical improvement.
But, the path to Big Data analytics for most healthcare providers will be difficult. Most providers have a hodgepodge of siloed systems and databases that don’t have good points of integration. Moreover, typically there is no common understanding of the data under management and thus it’s difficult to determine the analytical models, even in the abstract.
So, while the outcomes might not be great so far, this lack of progression can't necessarily be tied to one piece of the puzzle. The potential is still there in big data and EMR to create a better medical future.
Outcomes so far
That's not to say that the medical world is yet to see any benefits from EMRs and the overall data-driven approach. Here are three examples of benefits that could be seen the world over.
EMRs also offer greater accessibility to documents. Got a lot of patient documents to store and recall? That makes this a big data issue. According to Tom Poulter, head of Information Management and Technology at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, the Wirrel, Merseyside, in an InformationWeek article on the
digitization of medical records: "The main benefit we see coming out of digitization is accessibility," he said. "We want information to be easier to access and share by our clinicians for the benefit of our patients".
The ability to combine different data sets, including those found in EMRs, will continue to produce medical benefits, as Kurt Roots pointed out in The 'Healthy' Reasons to Combine Disparate Data Sets on Big Data Republic: "As the privacy frontier continues to recede, particularly in the US, policy will give way to practice allowing these emerging technologies to deliver "healthy" reasons to combine and analyze disparate data sets."
Do you see the benefits?
Do the benefits stand up to the huge profits organizations are making from this lobby for legislation? Or are EMRs too slow to produce tangible results considering the financial incentives behind them? Comments welcome below.
"we've blown £Billions in UK trying to build a system to link patient records across our entire health system - it failed!!"
The key to success for linking all the medical records is standarization. Until then, the systems will fail. A couple of years ago I read a report about the EU having a project to standardize EMRs across Europe. Th eobjective was to reach a cross-border system.
Great idea. I haven't heard about it later, though. Language has to be unified for a cross-border EMRs system, too.
Re: Too much profit? That's a good point Ariella... but I think the same thing happens in any business. That expenditure will still need to be justified by the next cycle... and if it can't be, in the cut and thrust of business, heads would roll.
User Rank: Blogger 2/28/2013 | 8:22:37 PM
Re: Too much profit? @Keith Ah, that works like the flexible spending accounts some people have. It's use it or lose it, so sometimes medical services market at year end with a reminder to use up the FSA balance.