Blumenthal interview on EHR use elicits mixed reaction

A recent interview in The Atlantic with David Blumenthal, former National Coordinator for Health IT, has generated a flurry of comments from readers weighing in on the role and worth of electronic health records.

Blumenthal, now president of the Commonwealth Fund, had pointed out that the benefits of EHRs were "substantial" for patients but that providers were incurring significant costs, and that it takes time to make the transition to electronic records, in an interview with The Atlantic.

Perhaps not surprisingly, many of the negative comments came from physicians, who called the current program a "mess" and EHRs "poison," saying they only help the EHR vendors.

Other commenters provided more nuanced viewpoints, with several individuals in IT noting that EHRs had great promise, particularly as healthcare looks to be more preventative care and evidence based. One commenter pointed out that for other innovations, such as the cotton gin, it took 20 years for problems to be ironed out.

Interestingly, a sizable number of commenters were patients, most of whom were in favor of provider use of EHRS and believed they enhanced their care, so long as they were interoperable.  

"All of [my] facilities use state of the art EMR systems, but the systems don't talk to each other. ... Until there is a well-integrated way for your doctors and their systems to communicate, coordination of care is going to be an issue," one reader said.

The comments are consistent with reports elsewhere, noting that EHRS are good in concept, but that their current design, inability to share data and poor usability hampered patient care and left physicians unhappy.

To learn more:
- here's The Atlantic's follow-up, focusing on reader comments