Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

E-Records: The Good, the Bad and the Future

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

E-Records: The Good, the Bad and the Future

Article excerpt

Ten health professionals made up a generous resource of medical knowledge at an "Ask the Experts" forum in Sarasota last week -- and it wasn't long before a question from the audience sparked a lively discussion about electronic health records.

In the session at The Glenridge retirement community, sponsored by Vitalcare Home Health and The Carroll Center, local specialists fielded questions that ranged from fairly basic -- what is atrial fibrillation? -- to the exotic -- what did the doctors think of "regenerative" stem cell therapies currently being marketed? (They didn't think much of them at this point, although the science is promising.)

When someone asked about electronic health records, the doctors were quick to outline the joys and sorrows of this new way of doing medicine.

"It's an amazing advance," said vascular specialist Russell Samson. "Many of you have multiple disease processes" that might have been missed during an office visit with the old paper charts, "but now it's all there, staring you in the face. And in 10 years, we'll have a huge amount of data that tell us what practices are the best."

Dermatologist Heidi Anderson was a bit more lukewarm. "The whole reason to do this was to share information and have fewer errors," she said, but offsetting this benefit are the "tremendous costs" of securing the system and connecting with other health providers.

"Obviously, it's the way we're going," added orthopedic surgeon Patrick J. O'Neill. "But in my office, I spend a lot of time on the computer, and I'm not looking the patient in the eye as much. When I go to the hospital, I see nurses sitting at their computers, and they're not talking to patients."

But Fredrick Romano, medical director of the emergency room at Doctors Hospital of Sarasota, predicted that as comfort with the technology increases, face time will return.

"We're trying to bring technology into the actual patient encounter," he said, with more portable devices, like iPads, that can be used at the bedside. …

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