The Key Limitation and Danger of the Electronic Health Record

Dr. Alice Dreger

Please join the IU Center for Bioethics for a special seminar on Electronic Health Records by Alice Dreger, Ph.D., author of Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science. The seminar discusses a key limitation and danger of the electronic health record (EHR), “In Which Winnie the Pooh Teaches Us Something Important about the EHR’s Central Lesion.”

The seminar will take place in the Glick Eye Institute, Room 103, on June 6 at 2pm.

The electronic health record (EHR) holds the potential to be a fantastic technology in many ways. It promises better patient access to records, the ability to look more systematically for risk before harm happens, a way for health care professionals to more accurately track patients longitudinally, and a means to kinds of medical research we could never do before. But the EHR also has the potential to obscure the importance of cohesive narrative in patients’ lives.

This talk uses A.A. Milne’s story of Owl’s house being blown down, along with research from clinical psychology, cross-cultural anthropology, and evolutionary biology, to suggest that, unless we think about the great big narrative holes the EHR is leaving in patients’ lives, we may not be healing people as well as we could. Drawing on her experiences as an historian of medicine and science—including as one who has composed short, private, client-centered medical histories for victims of iatrogenic trauma—the speaker will suggest that the macrohistory of science and medicine that helps us understand the power of the EHR also compels us to consider the need for a micro history of medicine that makes up for one of the EHR’s worst unintended consequences.