Ninety percent of general practitioners use computers. Computers
are being used by GPs for an increasingly broad range of functions.
Effectively, Australia now has a national electronic medical record
(EMR) based in general practice. The true benefits of having an
EMR will only be realised when we move beyond the idea that it
is simply information that was once recorded on paper. Electronic
medical records allow multiple sources of information to come into
play in the consultation. This article looks at the future of the EMR in
general practice and how we can use it to improve patient care.
Twenty-five years ago I bought a medical practice. At the time, patient records were on 8 x 5 inch cards, receipts were done using the Kalamazoo system, suture material was okay to reuse if soaked in antiseptic solution, and the only transfer of information was by telephone or mail. How times have changed! Like me, 90% of general practitioners now have a computer on their desk;1 65% of us use our computers to the level of progress notes/clinical records.2 The only time I really need paper now is to generate information such as referrals and investigation requests for use outside the practice.
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