The problem with most efforts to get physicians to digitalize their practices is that after spending up to $20-$30K per physician to get started the practices are still islands. Freshly implemented systems still don’t talk to each other and any new patient that walks in the door entails a significant amount of effort to get their records into the system. This updating takes up a large portion of each visit since that patient will undoubtedly have interactions with other physicians and those updates to their records will never make it to all people involved in their care.
Our office is prett;y much paperless and yet the amount of effort needed to get all of the reference labs, and services provided by other hospitals updated and current in our system so we have a complete and accurate record would prevent us from offering timely medical care.
What I’d like to see is the Obama administration underwrite the cost of all of the interfaces and/or implement a national clearing house to which all EMRs, hospitals, labs, insurance providers and government would interface. Then when that patient walks in the door our records would be updated and we could focus on making decisions rather than updating records.