The Too-Slow Evolution of Electronic Medical Records - Page 2
Despite a vigorous campaign by the federal government and some large health-care providers to move the nation’s patient records from the Jurassic Age of paper to the Electronic Age of digital communication, most physicians and clinics have been slow to embrace the transfer. Apart from radiology, which the Los Angeles Times notes leads the digital charge, there are two overriding reasons for the health-care establishments to lag other industries in digital record-keeping.
The concern for patient privacy resonates with many people, especially in light of what seem to be daily disclosures of hackers compromising the customer data base of a bank, a social media platform, a large retailer… Both health-care providers and patients rightfully wonder about privacy and security.
The second impediment to efficiently computerizing medical records reflects the labyrinthian nature of codifying a wide variety of medical specialties and medical office practices to be organized by a myriad of IT companies vying for the business. According to MarketWatch, “Critics say the architects of the plan left out a means of ensuring that the systems in the emerging patchwork of proprietary software will be able talk to each other. On top of that, the very act of digitizing millions of patient histories represents a technological leap for the legions of doctors who remain attached to paper record-keeping.”
Because health care represents one-sixth of federal spending, and because, according to federal estimates, 80% of doctors and hospitals had yet to embrace even rudimentary measures to computerize records, the federal economic stimulus in 2009 included incentives for doctors to digitize their records. It’s hardly been a resounding success, and one physician’s experience might indicate why: His practice purchased a system from a small vendor for $400,00 ($80,000 per doctor), but looks to recover only one-sixth of the cost from the feds. “There’s no uniform code by which the medical community is operating, and no widely used software standard like Microsoft’s Windows being used,” MarketWatch reported.Continued on the next page