Electronic Health Records: A Physician's View
August 24, 2015
Health care providers, patients, policymakers and payers all share the same vision of an efficient medical system powered by information technology. However, according to a 2014 survey of the Texas Medical Association (TMA), more than 30 percent of Texas physicians do not utilize electronic health records (EHRs) in any form whatsoever, says family physician and contributing fellow Lawrence N. Pivnick for the National Center for Policy Analysis.
And it is not clear that the patients of physicians who use EHRs benefit at all:
- Nationwide, only 19 percent of physicians have met the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Stage 2 regulations for "meaningful use" of EHRs, though Stage 3 regulations (and penalties) are already scheduled to take effect.
- Almost two-thirds of technology projects fail as they run into unplanned cost overruns, poor quality and excessive delays, compounded by the introduction of several new risks inherent in any new technology.
The federal Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 authorized up to $27 billion of public funding to promote the benefits of EHR use by providers -- with penalties, of course, for noncompliance. The government and large corporations are promoting EHRs in order to advance their own agenda, not to assist patients and doctors.
If a personal, computerized medical record is considered so essential, why not simply scan anything pertinent onto a thumb drive for the patient, so he alone has control of it and can decide who will have access.
Continuous transmission of patients' intimate physiological details over wireless networks and the Internet demands rigorous security and personal privacy protections which do not yet exist. Furthermore, EHRs must prove themselves to be cost effective in an era of dwindling economic resources and competing societal priorities. If Congress is truly serious about narrowing the federal government's huge budget deficit, it might consider cutting the $27 billion authorized by HITECH as a start.
Source: Lawrence N. Pivnick, MD JD, "Electronic Health Records: A Physician's View," National Center for Policy Analysis, August 2015.
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