Virtually all major technology innovations result in good changes in society and introduce new problems.
The automobile opened up the country and accelerated commerce. It also spurred global warming and people died on the highways.
The Internet enabled new ways to find information and forge communities. It also supported new forms of identity theft and eased access to unsavory material by children.
The television brought diverse entertainment and education into the living room and enabled the real-time participation in world events. It also contributed to sedentary lifestyles and the homogenization of culture.
Widely deployed interoperable electronic health records will bring good changes and introduce new problems. While the net impact of EHRs will be positive, we should acknowledge that their use also brings a downside. EHRs are no different in that regard than any other major technology innovation.
Individuals and organizations that point out these problems should not be discounted as Luddites, narrow thinkers, or resistant to change. While some of the con-EHR commentary can be discounted, we need to listen to it.
The point is not to pooh-pooh those that point out problems. The point is to understand the new problems and devise ways to mitigate or remove their impact. Seat belts and emission controls were steps taken to reduce the problems created by automobiles. Various applications have been developed to reduce Internet-based identity theft. The explosion of TV channels enables a wide range of cultures to express their voice.
Those who note that EHRs can hinder the connection between a provider and a patient, add too much time to simple tasks, and result in problematic privacy intrusions are right. EHRs will do these things.
We have to find better ways to make these problems less of a problem.
John Glaser is vice president and CIO at Partners HealthCare System. He describes himself as an "irregular regular contributor" to HIStalk.