Saturday, October 13, 2012

Guest Blog: A Patient's EHR Point-of-View

Barry Comer, blogging at Thoughts/Rhythms, gives a poet's impression of the EHR experience:

In June of 1966, several crew members begin dying from a mysterious depletion of salt, extracted from their bodies. The crew’s doctor anaylizes post-mortum and discovers by instrument, the phenomenon’s cause. 

Of course this is the fiction in 1966, envisioned by Gene Roddenberry for the 23rd century. The imaginary “tricorder” in the doctor’s hands is for wishful dreamers and possibly envied by my physician, in 2012. 

With the introduction of electronic medical records (EMR) to the patient/physician dialog, neither the future nor a “diagnostician in a hand” have arrived. Clumsy to learn, intrusive in use, EMRs in form and function are short-reaching obstacles, that chart their course with manual input and uncertain results. 

Some tools in the 21st century disappoint and others appear with malice. Because EMRs are still untamed and newly minted, their usefulness arrives as a mixed blessing. 

They say, “time heals all”, but our relationship is in trial to stay in the moment.

My physician is intuitive, intelligent and listens carefully. She possesses a black belt
in medical counsel, that appears clairvoyant. Her holistic relationship to my body and mind is why I call her my doctor. The EMR pushes that trust backwards. It conspires to break her gaze from me and worse, has taken certainty of our relationship, into the “getting to  know you” process again.

Not only do I depend on her words, I put trust in her eyes. But when they stray, I feel the magic leave by the tiny keystrokes and space bar taps, filling the exam room. Our agreed upon relationship is breaking and hear it in her sigh.

This was not the future promised and feel once again, that some technologies are better left in clinical trial, with release contingent on both aesthetic and functionality. Without both, advancement seems muted by imagined giggling of software authors in the bushes. 

Not all things advanced by the goalkeepers make for better analysis and savings. Growing suspicious has been supplanted with hopeful resignation. It may get better and after all, 
I may just have a cold.    


  1. What a great post. I have been doing research on EHR and how they impact healthcare. I really enjoyed reading your article from the patient's point of view. Thanks so much for the great read.

    1. Thanks! I have passed that along to the author.