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Written by: Bob Habasevich, PT on Tuesday, February 3, 2015 Posted in: Inpatient Rehab

Imagine going to your computer, logging on to the Internet, putting your patient’s name into a search engine and getting immediate access to everything that was done for that patient to treat current and previous medical problems. With one or two more clicks, you would access summary information, comparing your patient to an appropriately matched population of like patients cared for with conditions and problems matching your patient. Then, another click and a quick analysis of the data would predict best-fit care strategies matched to your patient’s requirement and resources.

We previously commented that the medical record is the basis of all clinical effectiveness/knowledge. Therein lays the information of all current and past patients and treatments that, if properly made available, could guide care in the direction of best practice, or at least help avoid previous less-than-effective directions. Clinicians armed with this information could see immediate value in efficiency and outcomes.

This was and is the expectation of the electronic medical record. To date, the EMR/EHR has not lived up to the hype. Shortcomings are many; too many vendors, no common standards, a focus on meeting requirements for payment and the lack of interoperability are common obstacles to realizing the promise of electronic clinical informatics.

Clinical users are burdened by the learning curve required to take advantage of the electronic trove of information available. The words, “It takes too long” is limiting the EMR/EHR to a “deposit only system” to meet minimal clinical documentation requirements. Thanks to poor workflows, users ignore the myriad dropdowns in their EHR systems, and instead make extensive use of free-form text notes that, as unstructured data, never makes it into an analysis bucket.

Right now, most EHR software only provides a tiny fraction of the data necessary to feed the clinical knowledge-effectiveness algorithm. Patient-centric information does not flow across providers and remains captive within unconnected clinical silos. Too often, vendor priority focuses on getting EHR software up and running, with little emphasis on reducing costs and improving care.

Earlier this year, Modern Healthcare reported that Google was introduced in the race to capture the $11 billion electronic health record contract to replace the Veterans Affairs Departments’ EHR system, VistA. “Google would provide services in infrastructure, including cloud, security, storage, networking, and enterprise search capabilities,” said PricewaterhouseCoopers’ health IT practice leader Dan Garrett. He went on to say, “Google’s search services will allow providers to query EHR data extensively. A doctor could query it for all the patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, for example, and then search for correlations between patients with the disorder and comorbidities, or other factors that led to an improvement or decline in health.”

Can you imagine how your practice would change if you could Google your patients? I hope so………..

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