President Obama has called for the nation’s health care system to adopt electronic medical records ““ a move that he says will lead to 80 billion dollars in savings.
That figure comes from a theoretical study done in 2005. But analysts admit that real-world evidence doesn’t support the claim. For one thing, 100 percent of physicians would have to adopt digital records, while at the moment less than 20 percent of physician practices have made the transition to electronic records.
Computerized medical records have some definite benefits – the potential to reduce medical errors, improve preventive care, and avoid redundant tests.
But, the current generation of systems may actually prevent significant cost savings. They’re geared more to satisfy billing requirements than improve patient care. Most programs make it easier to “upcode.” With a single keystroke or mouse click, programs can make diagnoses more complicated than they really are, or add to a note, with the goal of increasing revenue.
And despite the more detailed charting, there is no data that digital records result in improved outcomes for patients.
Electronic medical records may save money in the future. But for now, it’s simply not the case.
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