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Commentary |

Meaningful Use of Health Information Technology Is Managing Information

Richard J. Baron, MD, MACP
JAMA. 2010;304(1):89-90. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.910.
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Physicians encountering a new technology such as electronic health records (EHRs) typically use it to solve the same problems they were trying to address with older technologies. It takes time to determine that the new technology creates entirely new possibilities for practice. For instance, when the electrocardiogram was first invented, it was thought to be a better version of an older technology, the Mackenzie polygraph.1 The Mackenzie instrument, which made a simultaneous visible record of mechanical events (radial pulse, jugular venous pulse) in the cardiac cycle, was a powerful tool in unlocking the problem of cardiac arrhythmia. Initially, the electrocardiogram was considered simply a “better polygraph” and was used only to understand arrhythmias. Because the T wave and ST segment do not have mechanical equivalents, early electrocardiographers ignored them, overlooking tracing changes now considered classic for acute myocardial infarction. Similarly—but perhaps not surprisingly—physicians today often consider the EHR to be simply a better version of the paper chart.

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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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