When Medical Informatics Clashes With Medical Culture

Paul Cerrato | InformationWeek | July 19, 2012

Ever ask your family doctor how much the test she just ordered will cost? Chances are she doesn't know. Physicians have been trained to provide the best possible care and to order whatever procedures they deem necessary to diagnose and treatment disease, regardless of the cost.

That philosophy is consistent with the Hippocratic oath, but as the nation tries to cope with its runaway medical tab, that philosophy requires close scrutiny. And it's especially important given all the IT systems in place that can help contain medical costs.

Tools are available that can help reduce the number of duplicative or otherwise unnecessary diagnostic tests doctors order. And although their main function is not cost containment, these systems can have a profound effect on the bottom line. EHRs, for example, when properly implemented, can keep clinicians informed of recent lab tests and imaging studies--through the magic of HL7.