The "Electronic Medical Record" (EMR) or the "Electronic Patient Record" (EPR) are hot topics today. The advertisements for them often are impressive, and one would be lead to believe that they soon will be on the web, if not so already. Such may be premature. To esatablish a "reality check" on what practicing residents do at a large hospital, I have acquired a description of resources in current use from its head resident. This person is quite skilled with computers, and has taken a lead role in establishing and improving the hospital's EMR. He also is a graduate of St. Olaf!

Here is what he has to say:

"Our electronic medical record is not web based. It is located on a server at our clinic. We have laptops in every exam room. We can access the EMR from the hospital computers located in our conference room, the library and any room with a network jack with our laptops. We can use our laptops from home to dial into the server and work on charts or access them when answering [patient] calls while on call for the clinic.

For actual web applications, my main medical use is MD Consult. I know a majority of residents and faculty have accounts. It is a source that has on-line ability to search multiple textbooks ([between] 35-40) and journals ([about]100).It also has a section on what our [patients] may be seeing from the popular media. I also use a site sponsored by the NIH.

Our residency's home page has our rotation and call schedules as well as our 'peripheral brain' which is under development. This has summaries of our evidence-based journal clubs, as well as our most useful presentations and lectures."

For the most modern descriptions of the EMR, I suggest looking at the Medical Matrix site. It has a multiplicity of topics and sites, all of which are kept quite up to date. You also may want to look at Medical Computing Today, a current event site maintained for physicians, but free to all.

The site that is referred to in the quote above, MD Consult, is a gold mine, but it requires that you pay a monthly fee to use it past a brief introductory stage. It clearly is written as a source of information for physicians to use in getting prepared to treat computer literatate patients, even including summaries of what happened on the most recent episode of ER!