The medical record: a comprehensive computer system for the family physician.
BACKGROUND: Despite the early excitement regarding the possible uses of computers in medical care in the 1980s, the computer has not had much effect on routine outpatient medicine except for billing and accounting. METHODS: An emerging comprehensive ambulatory care computer system, The Medical Record (TMR), is used extensively in a large family practice, the Duke Family Medicine Center. TMR is the central system for accounting, appointments, billing, and reporting of laboratory results, radiographic findings, and medications. TMR also records problem lists and generates prompts to the clinicians for needed health maintenance, laboratory tests, and reminder letters. The most innovative function of TMR is the computerized obstetric patient record, which can be accessed from multiple sites. Cost savings compared with a manual system were found to be in excess of $7 per patient visit or approximately $500,000 per year for the Duke Family Medicine Center. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: A comprehensive computer system in a large family practice is cost effective and facilitates better patient care through improved access to patient data.
Yarnall, KS; Michener, JL; Hammond, WE
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