The low adoption rate of electronic records

An early-release NEJM study is getting some much-needed airplay in mainstream media. About time they caught up to what’s been discussed on the medical blogs for some time now.

Here’s one reason why physicians aren’t implementing electronic records:

Unless electronic medical records are fully funded, the majority of independent practicing physicians do not have any incentive to make the switch.

In fact, the individual physician rarely sees the investment return of electronic records. They pony up the initial capital while the cost savings go to the government and health insurers. It’s a lose-lose proposition.

My solution? Have government put money where their mouth is:

Implement VistA free of charge to every physician office in the country. If the politicians are so confident that electronic records will save money, this is a no-brainer.

Or, mandate physicians to implement VistA as a condition of receiving Medicare payments. This can be done in conjunction with a significant increase in physician payment rates.