ED Physician Executive Slams EHRs

Scott Mace, January 28, 2014

Electronic health records "are not effective communications tools—not effective at all," says a self-avowed technology optimist who holds a dim view of current EHR capabilities, but has hopes for better systems to come.


Prentice Tom, MD
CMO, CEP America

Prentice Tom, MD, doled out some bitter medicine to a room full of healthcare IT vendors—and, I think, government regulators at the Northern California HIMSS Innovation and Technology Summit this month.

Tom, the lead speaker at the Silicon Valley event and a self-avowed technology optimist, shared his unvarnished assessment of current electronic medical records. They "are not effective communications tools—not effective at all."

I first encountered Tom about two years ago when he rose at a conference to challenge an HHS official about the inefficiency that electronic medical records were creating in his organization, CEP America. One of the largest emergency medicine groups in the country, CEP supplies emergency physicians to hospitals from California to Maryland.

Tom believes that EHRs "are not at all structured how physicians think." He says all such software is built "on a medical student learning platform" and that for the most part, clinical documentation is unnecessary.

"People believe that we have to have this enormous amount of documentation to do what we need to do, and that's not true," Tom told the HIMSS conference attendees. He cited an often-quoted study stating that the average physician waits 18 seconds before interrupting a patient.

Scott Mace

Scott Mace is the former senior technology editor for HealthLeaders Media. He is now the senior editor, custom content at H3.Group.


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