In his book, Too Big to Know, David Weinberger suggests that information is becoming the problem rather than the solution.
There used to be a nurse practitioner in another specialty in my hospital who copied those involved in a child’s care with every encounter. Anything – phone calls, routine visits, etc. The rationale was that “it’s better to be too informed than not informed.” She wore her propensity for viral copying as a compulsive badge of honor. Ask her about it and she would beam with pride. No one in the system was ever left behind.
But EPIC (our electronic health record system), like email, makes it easy to bring everyone into the loop. But I have thousands of patients. Each sees a pediatrician and a couple of other specialists. When everyone informs everyone else whenever a conversation transpires, it quickly becomes unmanageable.
As technology lowers the barrier for sharing, we create the potential for chaos. While this may be easier said than done, we need rethink how we use information channels with one another. We need to think how we best repurpose information. In the digital age, human bandwidth will never scale to match clinical supply. And until we design systems to filter and aggregate what’s happening with our patients, old-fashioned human discretion will rule the day.
This goes beyond EHRs and into any networked environment. More information is not better information.
Links to Amazon are affiliate links.