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Who Dropped the Ball?

The February 2008 issue of Fast Company has a five-page spread featuring key players in the current debate over electronic medical records.

Advocates of an electronic health-care system argue that universal digital records would result in better, more cost effective treatment for patients. If a single complete electronic record followed a patient throughout his life, they contend, physicians would be better able to see patterns in the person's medical history and make more accurate diagnoses.

On the other side of the fence are patient advocates, who are concerned with issues of security, privacy, and data integrity. They worry, for example, that people other than the patient and those authorized by the patient would have access to the records. If, say, an insurance company gained access to a potential client's complete medical history, wouldn't they use it to determine their risk factor in insuring that individual and possibly deny that person coverage?

Of the five leaders in the debate featured by Fast Company, two work for corporations, two work for nonprofits, and one works for the Bush administration. Two are trained Physicians, one is an attorney, one a businessman, and one a computer scientist.

There's not a medical librarian in the bunch.

Medical librarians must have a stake in this debate. And I can't imagine that they're neutral. Therefore, I am lead to one of three assumptions. Either there are no leaders in this debate from medical librarianship; the people at Fast Company performed lazy research for their feature; or the Medical Library Association needs to do a lot more to increase the visibility of its membership.

Whichever the case is, I do know that Fast Company is a fairly influential publication read by mid- and high-level government and industry leaders across the country. And as far as they know from Fast Company, medical librarians have nothing to add to the electronic medical records discussion.

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