Larry Medina

EMR/EHR Problems in the UK, are we next?

By Larry Medina
March 15, 2006 6:01 PM EST
Well, not exactly a new topic in this blog, but one that may require more people to speak up, and sooner rather than later.

Articles have been popping up right and left regarding the failure post-deployment of a new application for managing healthcare records of UK citizens in a Government funded initiative to the tune of $6.2B pounds over the next 10 years.  The system is comprised of 4 major components, and is planned to be deployed to 30,000 general practitioners and 300 hospitals, but in its initial deployment has resulted in the apparent confusion, loss and disruption of providing health services to untold thousands of patients.

As stated before, the push for the deployment of these systems, both here and in the UK is coming at the urging of Government entities (the DHHS in the US; the NHS in the UK) and much of it is based on the lobbying of those who stand to gain the most from the initiative, the software and systems vendors behing the EMR/EHR debacle. And there are numerous concerns with successful deployment, recognized by some.

One thing that should be of great concern to those of us here in the US is the Bill recently submitted by two US Congressmen to push for the deployment of an EMR system to manage the medical and insurance records of Federal employees, which is designed to be used as a sprinboard to push the same concept onto the rest of the US Citizens.  While the article discusses in general terms the potential risks and costs of the system, it fails to adequately address either. 

Medical records are required to be retained for the life of the patient, and in some cases longer.  What provisions are made to cover the cost of continual conversion and migration to provide persistent access over a 70-100 year period?  And these records run the gamut of forms and formats; paper, microfilm, x-rays, audio and video recordings, photographs, strip charts, prescriptions only to name a few. 

What happens to safeguard access and protect a patient's privacy when a doctor's office changes staff, or a doctor leaves a practice to join another, or medical practices merge, insurance providers take one another over, or in the rare but more common over the past decade case, a medical practice files for bankruptcy?

I'd encourage you all to contact Congressmen Porter and Clay and voice your concerns, as I have.  If what's happening in the UK is any indication of the future of EHR/EMR here in the US, we better ALL SPEAK UP!