With the new health care legislation going full steam ahead with the promise of integrated 21st century electronic medical records and higher efficiency, many might not consider the human component.
A letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine indicates that Veterans Affairs doctors who were surveyed about their use of medical records indicated that they had missed or had not followed up on electronic alerts that the electronic system had brought to their attention.
The study concluded that because doctors received a massive amount of alerts daily, they considered them not to be important. These alerts are generated when the system detects that a patient has received an abnormal test result. The VA doctors received around 63 alerts a day in the system. Similar to the way that people deal with emails, the doctors ignored many of the alerts and accidentally missed some important indications.
Half of the doctors surveyed said that the system, as is, works while around 30% reported that they had missed important patient results which resulted in a delay of treatment for a few days. Yet he report did not compare the rates of missed diagnoses to other forms of reporting such as faxes, mail or phone calls.
Shockingly, 87 percent of the doctors indicated that the number of daily alerts was excessive and around 70 percent of doctors said that they were receiving more alerts than they thought was manageable.
The implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or as many call it Obamacare, will roll out electronic medical records across the country with billions of dollars from the federal government paving the way.
The research concluded that those doctors that were more comfortable with the electronic record system made less errors and missed fewer important results.
The letter in JAMA Internal Medicine can be found here.
Published by Medicaldaily.com