From Analog to Digital Medicine


Gary A. Puckrein is President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Minority Quality Forum. In 1998 he founded the Forum’s predecessor program (the National Minority Health Month Foundation) to help communities and policy makers eliminate the disproportionate burden of premature death and preventable illness in special populations through the use of evidence-based, data-driven initiatives. Dr. Puckrein has built the Forum’s capacity to house vital statistics and other information-including demographic, environmental, claims, prescription, laboratory, hospital, and clinic data-in a centralized data warehouse. HDC was thrilled to have him serve as a keynote presenter at our recent event in Chicago, Putting Health Data to Work in Our States and Committees.  Below, Dr. Puckrein elaborates on some of the themes he touched upon at our Chicago event.

Analog medicine is characterized by patient charts—file folders shelved in physicians’ offices (typically behind receptionists’ desks) that contain clinicians’ notes on their patients’ medical histories. Because these charts are not machine readable, reviewing them is cumbersome and costly, which has hindered detection of adverse events, limited quality improvement, and discouraged identification of disparities, inefficiencies, and fraud. But all that is changing.

Today we are moving inexorably into the world of digital medicine. Points of care are being required or induced through financial incentives to replace analog patient charts with electronic health records, which are machine readable and transferrable across global networks. They are enabling us to build new systems to improve management. Read More