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Electronic Medical Records: Impact on Doctor-Patient Talks

President Bush wants every American to have an electronic medical record. He says such records will make the U-S health care system safer and more efficient, and they will reduce costs by 10 percent. Electronic medical records hold all of the information currently contained in the dog-eared paper charts found in physicians' offices and hospitals. EMR's also allow doctors to write prescriptions electronically and fax them directly to a pharmacy, eliminating any concerns about illegible handwriting. These systems might also prompt a doctor to - for example - double check the dosage on a prescription in light of a patient's reduced kidney function. And these computer systems help a doc get up to speed on an ailment with which he or she might not be familiar through access to online medical education or a medical education program. That's the good news. On the down side, privacy advocates question who will have access to private medical information. And, patients and doctors alike worry that technology might be an obstacle to their communication **** "Improving Health Literacy through Communication" is a partnership of WOSU, the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging and Judith Brachman. Support is provided by The Columbus Medical Association Foundation, Cardinal Health and the Columbus Foundation. *****