The concept behind the National Electronic Health Records (NEHR) system is sound (Patients first in national record system; July 12).
Now that more patients seek care from several health providers - from specialists to general practitioners to physiotherapists - medical care has become fragmented.
For better continuity of treatment, everyone should be kept in the loop. But the system is fraught with professional and practical problems.
I have the system in place in my clinic but have yet to use it, as data input is massively time-consuming and inconvenient. Perhaps voice recognition should be considered.
Mostly, taking a careful and detailed history will elicit all the information needed for treatment at the primary healthcare level.
Good doctors would far prefer to interact with patients than with machines. Similarly, patients prefer doctors to do a more thorough physical examination rather than be engrossed in extracting information from computer systems.
Another concern of doctors is whether the NEHR is retrospective or prospective.
It is a daunting task to input all relevant medical information of a patient whom the general practitioner has been treating for more than 30 years. If he inputs a succinct summary but misses something out, there is the risk of litigation for being remiss.
Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)