The medium is the message: Electronic Medical Records show a commitment to quality

by CCHIT Staff on April 23, 2008

In “EMRs show commitment to quality,” Laura Adams, President and chief executive officer, Rhode Island Quality Institute, Providence, provides a sobering perspective on how long we’ve been working on the transition away from paper records:

[B]elieve it or not, it has also been more than 40 years since the U.S. healthcare industry first began talking about replacing paper as the medium of choice for communicating patient medical information by creating clinical information networks and electronic medical record systems. Since then, progress has been painstakingly slow. Paper is still, by far, the dominant medium used to collect, store, analyze and share vital patient medical information.

And her take on Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” hints that, perhaps, the medium in which we convey and collect medical information has the potential to convey some very positive views about the practice of medicine:

Regardless of the quality, accuracy and integrity of the contents of a medical record, the mere fact that it is paper-based limits its effectiveness as a communication medium in the context of 21st century healthcare delivery. Conversely, an electronic HIE system has the potential to deliver the message that the industry is unified, efficient, safe and patient-centered.

So, what will it take to help facilitate this transition? Read more of Adams’ thoughts in “EMRs show commitment to quality.”

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