Does your doctor have an electronic health record (EHR)? Do you have a complete personal record of your medical history? I don’t and I am sure you don’t either. It’s kind of absurd that there’s probably more sophisticated technology at your local fast food joint or car wash than there is at your doctors office.
Why should you care about electronic health records? Because they reduce errors (think prevention of medication interactions and duplicate medical tests) and they provide a complete picture from all your different care providers in one place where all your docs – and you – can see “what’s up” with your health. Basically, it makes doctors do their job better. Peachy.
A national survey found that electronic records were used in less than 9 percent of small offices with one to three doctors, where nearly half of the country’s doctors practice medicine.
82 percent of those using such electronic records said they improved the quality of clinical decisions, 86 percent said they helped in avoiding medication errors and 85 percent said they improved the delivery of preventative care
So, why doesn’t every doctor’s office have EHRs already? Well, the national survey says that some just aren’t happy with the solutions and other just don’t see the incentives for doing so. The cost to implement is high and during the transition they would see fewer patients, possibly cutting their income in half.
Dr. Paul Feldan, one of three doctors in a primary care practice in Mount Laurel, N.J., considered investing in electronic health records, and decided against it. The initial cost of upgrading the office’s personal computers, buying new software and obtaining technical support to make the shift would be $15,000 to $20,000 a doctor, he estimated. Then, during the time-consuming conversion from paper to computer records, the practice would be able to see far fewer patients, perhaps doubling the cost.
I feel your pain, docs, but come on. What about doing this because it is the right thing to do? Isn’t health care about CARE and doing it the best way possible? I can understand the bitterness… those who benefit financially are not the ones who pay for the records. But what price can you put on better care?
Private and government insurers and hospitals can save money as a result of less paper handling, lower administration expenses and fewer unnecessary lab tests when they are connected to electronic health records in doctors’ offices. Still, it is mainly doctors who bear the burden making the initial investment.
This is just another sign that our health care system is completely shattered and it needs an “extreme makeover”.
There is a new 5-year pilot program about to start through medicare that will give “incentives” for docs to go paperless.
The government took a step in that direction last week, announcing a $150 million Medicare project that will offer doctors incentives to move from paper to electronic patient records. The program is intended to help up to 1,200 small practices in 12 cities and states make the conversion.
Individual doctors will be offered up to $58,000 over the five-year span of the project, which is intended to test the impact of incentives on the spread of electronic health records. Further programs across the country are planned.
Good. Maybe in another 10-12 years my trail of medical encounters will be as comprehensive as my social network map on Facebook and LinkedIn. (grin)