Over the past decade, federal spending of $36 billion to stimulate health providers’ conversion of patient medical records from piles of paper to electronic format was supposed to make care safer and lives easier. It would illuminate epidemiological trends that could stop spread of disease or point to a preventable culprit.
It might even make diagnosis of patient symptoms faster and more accurate. And patients would have easier access to their medical records.
To make sure it did all that, stakeholders were supposed to build a national databank and safety center that would track near misses, injuries and deaths caused by glitches in the system — for example medication or patient record errors — many of which have driven doctors and health systems nearly crazy over the years.