Author Affiliations: Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of California, San Francisco.
Section Editor: Drummond Rennie, MD, Deputy
The computer revolution has enormous potential to improve primary care
in the areas of medical records, communication between physicians and patients,
information sharing among health care providers, and rapid access to reliable
medical information for both physicians and patients. A number of barriers
must be overcome before computerization is widely embraced in primary care:
e-health often takes too much time and is too expensive; the quality of Web-based
medical information is inadequate; software programs may not interact with
one another; patient privacy must be protected; public and private insurers
rarely pay for electronic communication with patients; and the computer could
interfere with the patient-physician relationship. Studies have shown that
some computerized systems, such as reminder prompts and physician performance
feedback, may improve physician performance and patient outcomes, but if these
systems are too time-consuming, physicians may not use them. If primary care
practices are to benefit from the electronic revolution, they must redesign
their clinical processes to ensure that e-health facilitates rather than hinders
the work of physicians.
Bodenheimer T, Grumbach K. Electronic Technology: A Spark to Revitalize Primary Care? JAMA. 2003;290(2):259–264. doi:10.1001/jama.290.2.259
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