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Dr. Lamar Duffy, an adjunct professor of family medicine at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, recently was appointed chief medical information officer (CMIO) of USA Health.
“A CMIO represents our physicians’ needs in the information systems department and also manages workflow,” said Mark Lauteren, chief information officer of USA Health.
Dr. Duffy, who joined USA Health in 2007 as a family medicine physician, described a CMIO as “the liaison between an organization’s information systems department and its physicians and other clinicians. He says the process of converting the USA Health records from paper or partially electronic records to a completely electronic system is a “monumental task.”
“In the early stages, electronic medical record (EMR) implementation is generally an all-consuming task. We’re trying to unify medical records and work processes for two hospitals, a cancer institute and numerous outpatient venues. It’s not just a matter of technical hurdles. It’s a total re-engineering of work flow,” Dr. Duffy said. To optimize the use of the EMR system at USA Health in the future, he acknowledges the inefficiencies present in the system.
“Clinicians struggle with needless inefficiencies that are currently present in EMR systems,” Dr. Duffy continued. “The products are still in their relative infancy, and they’re improving, but there are many aspects of the program that do not work the way a provider would use it. When the front office has recorded a patient’s marital status, why isn’t that passed into the history? If the nurse records the dates of the last pap smear, shouldn’t that update when the next pap smear is due? Any time you have to enter something twice, you’re wasting time,” Dr. Duffy said.
Although Dr. Duffy understands the current limitations of EMR, he also sees the potential for EMR to dramatically improve health care and consequentially quality of life. “When we optimize the system, patients should spend less time in the waiting room while doctors and nurses should be able to get home on time. We want to leverage what should be the strengths of an EMR such as data search and retrieval, care reminders, patient access and engagement, quality improvement, wasteful expense reduction and population health management. Those goals will never end.”
“To date, EMRs have so often been workflow impediments that we have not been able to realize their potential to make our lives better. Optimal use of the EMR system should help us move to a system where we spend money on quality, safety and positive outcomes. We need to demand that our tools be consistent, intuitive and unobtrusive. I figure my best chance to live to see that day is to do some of the work myself,” Dr. Duffy said.
Dr. Duffy earned his medical degree at the USA College of Medicine and completed his residency training at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Gadsden, Ala. He is board-certified in Family and Medical Informatics and has experience in electronic medical system information.
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