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Commentary: The real problem is that electronic health records focus too much on billing

BMJ 2017; 356 doi: (Published 24 January 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j326
  1. Jeanne Lenzer, associate editor, The BMJ
  1. jlenzer{at}

Advocates say that electronic health records increase patient safety through computerized prescriber order entry and integration of decision supports and guidelines. They also vastly increase opportunities for clinical research using “big data.”123

But critics, like Steven J Stack, the immediate past president of the American Medical Association (AMA), are unconvinced. Stack writes that electronic records “have so much potential, but frustrating government regulations have made them almost unusable,” adding that they were expected to “help facilitate patient engagement, reduce administrative burdens and promote exchange of data.” But those benefits, he said, “definitely” haven’t happened.4

A recent time-motion study sponsored by the AMA found that “For every hour physicians provide direct clinical face …

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