Defining the Electronic Health Record
Is it an EMR, an EPR, an EHR or a CRS and who cares anyway?
Professors on international trips measure how many hospitals are using order communications (or is it resulting and reporting) or computerised referral against their template of academic definitions, which I can guarantee fit almost no IT system in the real world, let alone (crucially) the manner in which it is used.
But do definitions help? I enjoyed reading about Socrates when I was at school. This gadfly of ancient Athens liked to ask questions such as “What is good?” or “What is the pious, and what the impious?” Then, by adroit questioning, he would lead his targets to realise what they thought they “knew” led to a contradiction.
But simply because you cannot define something does not mean you cannot appreciate or understand it—or, in the case of healthcare IT, use it. I worry the upsurge of academic interest in healthcare IT leads to introspection, and, like a hot bath, the more we contemplate it the colder it gets. Definitions have their place, but let’s get on with implementing healthcare IT and also learn from experience.