In the past, I have referred to a 1999 study by the Institute of Medicine which linked medical errors to the deaths of between 44,000 and 98,000 people annually. Recently, it has come to my attention that one error reduction strategy available to physicians involves the use of technology in doctors’ medical practices. Unfortunately, according to an article in yesterday’s Tucson Citizen, only sixty-four physician practices have signed up to participate in the new error reduction technology program which:
is designed to help small- and medium-size practices adopt electronic health-records systems, or EHRs, that give doctors immediate access to comprehensive, critical information about their patients.
Hopefully plenty more Arizona physicians will take advantage of this program and use technology to help reduce patient error rates. Errors in other careers may be somewhat forgiving. However, error rates in the field of medicine can lead to serious injury or death. As the physician who wrote the Tucson Citizen article stated, using electronic based health care records (EHR) can benefit patient care outcomes:
There’s good evidence that information technology can be used to improve health care for patients. Take the treatment of diabetes, for example, a serious condition that affects 7 percent of all Americans. If not managed correctly, diabetes can lead to many serious complications, even death. Through automated, comprehensive monitoring and alerts, EHR systems can help doctors deliver more timely and complete care for their diabetic patients.
For this reason alone, I sincerely hope more physicians take advantage of what appears to be a revolutionary technology based program to assist doctors in improving the quality of care for their patients.