' News of the Day #441 - Computerized records could mean data overload, legal liability, doctors fear

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Computerized records could mean data overload, legal liability, doctors fear

Some doctors view patients with electronic personal health records (PHRs) as their own personal nightmare.

“In some ways, [the PHR is] simply an electronic extrapolation of what we’e seen in the paper world,” stated internist Michael Zaroukian. “The greater the volume, the more likely that relevant data will be lost.”

He thinks that “though imperfect, a quick two- to three-minute oral history taken during an office visit can be more helpful than an extensive PHR.”

Nevertheless, the PHR can be a tool in developing a partnership with patients. He “gently forces” his own patients to use spreadsheets, paper or electronic.

Organization and quality of data are essential. Making sense of unorganized records, whether in paper or electronic form, can take four to five hours of work. But “there’s an unwritten rule that a primary-care physician’s time is not relevant and that information management isn’t really work,” stated Peter Basch, medical director for e-health at MedStar Health in Washington (Modern Healthcare 5/21/07).

There are liability concerns about missing a gem of information in a pile of debris, no matter the format. However, “it is easier to hide information from physicians in electronic formats,” states Steven Waldron, director of the American Academy of Family Physicians’ Center for Health Information Technology.

There are also new concerns about the ownership and control of the data—and also about computer viruses that patients may bring in on the disks that they supply (Modern Healthcare 5/22/07).

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