An electronic medical records mess

Dan Morhaim | Washington Post | September 27, 2013

Electronic health records were once touted as a turning point in U.S. health care, expected to revolutionize recordkeeping on patient histories and reduce the potential for medical errors. I hope that someday they will. But as the Affordable Care Act launches and, presumably, more Americans seek treatment, there is no standard system nationwide, and entry errors and inconsistencies are becoming common.

...It’s hard not to think much confusion and duplication could have been avoided if policymakers had involved providers in every step of the transition.

The Veterans Affairs is often criticized, but one thing for which it deserves praise is its award-winning electronic health records system. Deployed throughout the VA system in the late 1990s, the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture, known as VistA, is an integrated in-patient/out-patient, pharmacy and data management program. By some estimates, more than 60 percent of U.S. physicians have used VistA at some point during their training.

Had information technology companies been incentivized to make VistA compatible with billing systems, our country might have an efficient and robust clinical system that practitioners nationwide would know how to use. The only potential downside: Fewer government dollars for tech companies and their consultants...

Open Health News' Take: 

Once again, the widely deployed 'open source' VistA electronic health record (EHR) system is mentioned as an alternative to many of the the costly proprietary EHR systems currently being acquired and deployed by many hospitals. Where does one even begin to further educate hospital administrators, board members, or citizens about VistA - consistently touted as one of the best EHR systems in the world. Why not scan through some of the many collected news clips and articles Open Health News (OHN) has collected over time about the VistA system - see   -  Peter Groen, Senior Editor, OHNews