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PBS' Newshour Finds HIT Cure

March 24, 2008
by vciotti
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Just saw a fascinating 15 minute segment of Jim Lehrer's Newshour on PBS tonight that featured Winona Hospital in Minnesota and how happy all their doctors and patient are now that they have an EMR. Smiling physicians, patients and administrators all gushed about preventing legibility problems and having all info available everywhere to everyone all the time. They even let all we ignorant taxpayers in on the secret by telling us the name of the wonderful company that made al this happen: an outfit from Kansas City named Cerner. Cerner's president, another smiling face named Trace Devaney, claimed to have singled out Winona back in the late 90s to be a pilot site (another one?) for a community EHR, and in 2003 they came live (gee, isn't that over 4 years?). Only problem mentioned was that if a Winona patient ever went to the nearest big city for a serious medical problem to a place called the Mayo Clinic, they had a different system there so the EMR couldn't be viewed on that "foreign" system...

Now, no one said it on the show, but it seems like a simple cure for this lack of "interoperability" would be to have everyone on Cerner, right? They never mentioned any other systems, so that must be the only one that's made such a breakthrough development. Will Rogers said back in the '30s, "I only know what I read in the papers." Well, in 2008, we only know what we see on the tube, and the answers to the country's health care problems is so simple: everyone get an EMR, like the one that made everyone so happy in Winona. Â

Hats off to the Marketing department in Kansas City! Now if only the real world were as simple as that TV sound bite... Like how can small hospitals afford high-end EMR/CPOE systems when Medicare reimbursement is being cut by 10%?

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