Electronic Medical Records: New Turf for Taxonomists?

Electronic Medical Records (EMR) have been receiving a good deal of attention of late. And it is no wonder. Amongst the challenges present in healthcare, both in the U.S.A. and globally, the fact that medical records largely consist of paper files certainly gives us pause. But what, exactly, are the goals of the much talked about EMR initiatives? And, are the approaches being discussed likely to meet those goals? Further, why am I writing about this issue on a blog that is about taxonomies, content management, and so on? Let us look at this a bit more carefully, as I think the connection to taxonomies and the like will become quite clear.

A quick survey through the news tells us that the efforts around EMR are anything but trivial. Indeed, the EMR efforts in Great Britain have been anything but smooth sailing. Their efforts, that have only targeted 30,000 physicians in 300 state run hospitals, have ended up coming in at six times the original cost estimate, and have delivered results that are, according to Public Accounts Chairman Edward Leigh “…late or, when deployed, do not meet expectations of clinical staff.” Given that our country faces a considerably greater diversity of hospital systems, owing to the private-sector nature of healthcare in the U.S.A., and a significantly larger number of hospitals and physicians, it would seem like the efforts are doomed to failure. Continue reading