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Electronic Health Records Expensive For Physicians

Armen Hareyan's picture

Most of physicians refuse to use electronic health records because of high prices.

Electronic health records are meant to ease doctors' job in terms of making right decisions and avoiding medical errors. Records help doctors monitor patients' health history and see what treatment patients have received before. Lots of medical errors occur because of bad handwriting, and electronic records can exclude these errors. The records are also smart - they can alert dangerous drug combinations and even advise on drugs or tests.

President Bush expects all US citizens to use electronic health records by 2014, but there is still long way to go to achieve this goal.

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There are only 4% of physicians using the full advantages of electronic health records and 13% using basic advantages. This is a very low percentage of use and the main cause for it is the price. Physicians say that it is too expensive to switch to electronic health records from paper ones, although they understand the importance and advantages of electronic records.

"We have a broken market for electronic health record adoption because the people who gain financially are not the people who pay," said Dr. Blackford Middleton from Partners Healthcare.

A survey of 2758 physicians showed that 2/3 of physicians are blaming high costs for switching to electronic health records. Besides, company size has a huge impact on prices, such as companies with more than 50 physicians are 3 times more likely to adopt electronic health records than smaller companies.

US Department of Health and Human Services is planning to spend $150 million on small and mid physician companies to help them switch to electronic health records within 5 years.