By Dr. Brian McDonough

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – We talked before about electronic medical records and how many doctors’ offices and hospitals are becoming computerized. But there are definitely certain advances that we are witnessing and about to see as a result of this.

One of the biggest is the fact that we have a potential improvement in what we call quality. In all businesses quality means better service and materials. In medicine it means providing great care and reducing the number of mistakes. For obvious reasons this is important.

It isn’t really the electronic entering of data that makes us avoid mistakes. Certainly when you eliminate bad handwriting it is helpful.

Quality can be improved by having better information and statistics about patient care to be used to help in future patient care.

Here is an example:

I may prescribe a certain medication for a patient’s urinary tract infection. With electronic medical records I will always have that in my computer system. If I want to, I can then look up every patient who was placed on that medication and see how well the medication worked in my practice with my patients. In the past I had to look at studies that were done on a national level if in fact someone bothered to do that study.

I can use that information to provide better care.

Reported By Dr. Brian McDonough, KYW Newsradio Medical Editor

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