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Electronic Health Records Face Human Hurdles More Than Technological Ones

April 18, 2011 No Comments

SOURCE:  Scientific American

In medicine, there’s the patient and there’s the chart. And the chart is paper.   That’s the stereotype. Actually, about 20 to 30 percent of all primary care physicians in the nation now use basic electronic health records, according to David Blumenthal, a Harvard Medical School professor who was the national coordinator for health information technology in the Obama Administration until a week ago. In fact, e-records are used almost universally in other industrialized countries, especially among primary care doctors, he added. Blumenthal spoke at a session here April 15 at the annual meeting of the Association of Health Care Journalists.

Moving from paper to electronic health records (sometimes called electronic medical records) has become more attractive to health care providers in the past two years under an act, funded with about $20 billion in economic stimulus funds from 2009, that provides incentives for physicians and medical practices to implement electronic health records.

The goal is to create a nation-wide interoperable private and secure electronic health information system, and to promote the exchange of records across geographic and institutional boundaries. Doctors, hospitals and other health care providers who become “meaningful users” of electronic health record systems, which start at about $100,000 at minimum to purchase for an individual practice, can receive $40,000 or more from the federal government. The incentives will convert in 2015 to penalties for those who fail to adapt.

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