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Health Information Systems: The Dream of Hope and Promise

Posted Oct 23 2008 1:31pm

In the past I have wondered why it takes so long for innovation to be put into practice in medicine. I suspect that the rigid culture common in American medical education is a root cause: “First, do no harm.” “Treat one, teach one”.

New knowledge is put to a much higher standard than usual and common practice. While some of the best and brightest amongst us have gone into medicine, too often their inquiring minds have been enslaved in by an ancient system of apprentice-like training that rewards the acceptance of past practices rather than the search for innovation and new knowledge.

Health information systems within an integrated delivery system may be the enabling technology that can free the medical profession to use new knowledge.

I dream of the golden moment, just at the time a clinical decision is about to be made, that the information system alerts the clinician to alternatives. Perhaps new scientific knowledge. Perhaps different clinical pathways.

At Aurora Health Care, one of our free-thinking medical leaders used to stress that “best practice” could often be replaced by the practice of “frugal medicine” if highest value to the patient was the goal. The health information system has the potential to suggest changes to physicians at the moment they are about to order treatment.

The promise of the technology is great. I dream that one day it will become common practice.

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