Weird Skin Stuff

July 2009


Electronic medical records – where to from here?

Volume 38, No.7, July 2009 Pages 537-539

Christopher Pearce

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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