Standards in EHRs

An article on standards for electronic health records in The New York Times begins like this:

Safety is also a potent argument for standards. History abounds with telling examples, like the Baltimore fire of 1904. That inferno blazed for 30 hours, destroying more than 1,500 buildings across 70 city blocks. Fire engines from other cities came to help, but could not. Their hose couplings — each a different size — did not fit the Baltimore fire hydrants. Until then, cities saw little reason to adopt a standard size coupling, and local equipment manufacturers did not want competition.

This is an open and shut case for me. Health record vendors (especially the old guys) have notoriously been slow to scale their usability (and data compatibility) efforts. Attention is deserved on both fronts.

Also, somewhat related, with all the government cash being pumped into EHR adoption this struck me: hospitals have to be the only modern entity–individual, organization, or other–that have to be paid in order to ascertain the benefits of using computers. Luddites, indeed.

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