Robert Mittman has another iHealthbeat technology column, this time on the progress in health care of XML. It’s well worth a read. Particularly interesting is the suggestion that, by formatting all those transcribed dictated notes which are currently in word documents (and then printed out on paper and sometimes stuck in the chart), in XML, a physician will be able to search for and find previous notes. They’ll also be able to search across an "on-the-fly" meta database of all patients in the institution. This is probably some years away, but XML may just be the answer to the challenge of getting the clinical note into a machine in a format where it can be recovered usefully, without making the physician do anything different in their current workflow.