Irrational Exuberance of EHR

I read a fantastic piece written by Dr. Daniel Essin, MA, MD, FAAP, FCCP for Physician's Practice. 

With EHR, Two Heads Are Not Better than One

He discusses the push and pull between the need to analyze discrete data versus providers' need to 'articulate' the patient's condition without getting to the SMD (Slow Me Down) factor.

Most practices adopt EHR motivated by Meaningful Use Incentives. The goal is interoperability and data analytics. However, at the point of care providers struggle with improving productivity and they look at alternatives such as dictation, which in turn is against the objective of capturing discrete data.

Dr. Essin said it well:

Today’s EHRs collect many informational elements twice, once in the narrative and again as “data.” Until narrative and data are united, using an EHR will require too much effort, create too much risk, and provide too little benefit to justify imposing them on medicine by fiat.

I believe that that computer technology, if used correctly, does hold great promise to improve healthcare. Unfortunately, as people have debated EHR over the years, the discussion has been framed as if the benefits of EHR are real, not potential. Irrational exuberance on the part of the EHR policy wonks and government officials not only spread this notion but lend credence to it. The reality is that EHRs have yet to deliver most of the promised benefit. Perhaps, giving more weight to the hype than to reality explains why poor decisions about EHR are so common.