Grand Rounds Report: Bringing Health Information to Life

by Academy of Clinical Excellence on November 5, 2010

David Blumenthal, MD, MPP, who serves as the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, under President Barack Obama, spoke at Medical Grand Rounds this week.

Dr. Blumenthal’s objective in his role within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is to “build an interoperable, private and secure nationwide health information system and support the widespread, meaningful use of health IT”.
In the talk, he shared information about his background as a primary care physician and how this has influenced his view of information technology within healthcare; Healthcare I.T. makes one a better physician.
He shared two examples from his days as a primary care physician to illustrate this:
In caring for a patient diagnosed with a urinary tract infection, he input the medication that he had prescribed into the system Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim and received a notice that the patient was allergic to sulfa. As a result of access to this information in real time, he was able to quickly change the prescription, averting a potential serious allergic reaction, before the patient left the office .
For another patient, he was ordering a test and the system alerted him to the fact that a similar test had been done for this patient within the last three months. This notification made him rethink the indication for the test and he ultimately elected not to order it. The resultant monetary savings for the system, and avoidance of additional patient exposure to radiation was beneficial to all parties.
The talk also included published studies proving that healthcare I.T. provides the opportunity to upgrade our health care delivery system: Quality goes up and costs go down with limited compromise of clinical autonomy.
Another interesting assertion was the notion that using electronic medical records routinely may become a marker for professionalism in medicine. Dr. Blumenthal explained that physicians who choose to practice without a tool that can enhance quality and safety, the electronic health record, may be breaching their commitment to our professional standards.

For more information on EHR’s:

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