Editorials

Medical informatics: the professional challenge

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.309.6966.1385 (Published 26 November 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:1385
  1. Anthony Nowlan
  1. “The Heart of the Matter: The Vital Role of Information in Clinical Practice” is on 1-2 December. Details are available from the BMA Conference Unit, Box 295, London WC1H 9TE (tel 0171 383 6605, fax 0171 383 6663).

    Doctors need to own the clinical agenda

    LAN, WAN, PAS, PACS, and DAT—the acronyms trip off the tongue, but still most doctors ask, “What is medical informatics?” It presents an alluring vision. Take the all too familiar nightmare of a doctor in a busy outpatient clinic, reviewing for the first time a complicated case of a patient with heart disease and struggling with multiple sets of thick notes. The doctor wonders what colleagues have done previously, which treatments have been tried, what the most recent electrocardiogram and chest radiograph showed, and, above all else, whether there is a plan. Time and energy are wasted, muddle is common, and clinical errors are likely. Now imagine the doctor with a clinical information system that presents a relevant summary of the medical record with key points highlighted, indicates the stage in the protocol for managing ischaemic heart disease that has been reached, provides access to the hospital's manual of cardiac treatment, orders investigations, books a follow up visit, and sends the clinic letter automatically. The …

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