From the NY Times:
We have all heard about the wonderful ways in which electronic medical records are supposed to transform our broken health care system — by eradicating illegible handwriting and enabling doctors to share patients’ records with one another more easily.
The recently passed federal stimulus package provides doctors and hospitals with $17 billion worth of incentive payments to switch to electronic records. The benefits may be real, but we should not sacrifice too much for them. The problem is not just with pediatrics.
Doctors in every specialty struggle daily to figure out a way to keep the computer from interfering with what should be going on in the exam room — making that crucial connection between doctor and patient. I find myself apologizing often, as I stare at a series of questions and boxes to be clicked on the screen and try to adapt them to the patient sitting before me. I am forced to bring up questions in the order they appear, to ask the parents of a laughing 2-year-old if she is “in pain,” and to restrain my potty mouth when the computer malfunctions or the screen locks up. I advise teenagers to limit computer time as I sit before one myself for hours each day until my own eyes twitch and my neck starts to spasm.