In age of digital records, paper still carries weight


In a blog post for the New York Times, Dr. Abigail Zuger, M.D. writes that, as electronic recordkeeping becomes more predominant in the medical field, giving everyone access to information can actually be more difficult.

“The data do not indicate how many (hospitals), like ours, are now awash in the products of competing vendors whose proprietary coding specifically impedes inter-system collaboration,” she writes.

Zuger details the vast number of passwords she and her colleagues must use to access data from among the array of digital systems and databases she and her patients use—and reports that there are many others that she cannot access. She also notes that the drive within the medical community to compile and rely on electronic information was prompted by the best intentions; she cites the directive from the Department of Heath and Human Services, which states that “using electronic health records will reduce paperwork and administrative burdens, cut costs, reduce medical errors and most importantly, improve the quality of care.”

Adds Zuger, “No one in our Tower debates those goals; we struggle daily to accomplish them, and often, incredibly, we succeed. We succeed with the simple expedient of paper. Paper has become our lingua franca, our fallback and standby. In our new digital universe, we have peculiarly seen a retro explosion of paper… When you don’t know what electronic language the receiver speaks (and you never do), you go with paper.”

Read the full article here.

Source: New York Times blog post by Dr. Abigail Zuger, M.D., December 14, 2015. Image: Dollar Photo