Category: Electronic Health Records

14
Dec

EHRs and the problems of closed systems

An electronic health record or EHR is an organized, systematic collection of health data of an individual or a community. Many doctors will have their own ideas about what sort of system they would like to use. Looking at the EHR market from a public health point of view requires these EHR systems to be interoperable, so that any citizen can move from his physician to another one without too much difficulty.

This can present a problem from a business sense to larger software companies who would like that their software be the predominant software in the market. When systems are inter-operable it means that customers don’t have to be trapped in to what is known as vendor lock-in. The outcome is two-fold. From the side of the medical practitioner it means he/she cannot move his practice’s EHR to, for example, a more modern EHR without incurring significant costs. From the patient’s side it means the medical practitioner cannot easily help the patient who maybe moving to another city to move his/her patient’s data with them.

A case in point is the EHR Epic. It is one of the biggest providers of EHRs and by many counts has saved many lives by its efficient system. The issue is interoperability. Epic, just like and other EHR has to move with the US Government’s ‘Meaningful Use‘ interoperability programme which is moving into stage 2, and Epic is feeling the heat.

While EHRs and PHRs are in it’s infancy in Sri Lanka, The take home message for a medical practitioner is to be responsible when choosing your EHR or any Health Informatics system. A good EHR should be one that that is efficient but at the same time is serves the needs of your patient by having an easy way to transfer their data to the next practitioner. This can only make sense on the long run.