Many professional fields have progressive attitudes towards technology and are dependent on computers and online resources. On the other hand, medical practitioners have avoided implementing the use of electronic records for years.
There are two primary reasons for this avoidance: cost and concern. Changing an entire record system within a hospital is a large and expensive task. In addition to taking the time and manpower needed to convert the files, a hospital must purchase software capable of safely and securely handling the information.
Physicians have also voiced concerns that the use of electronic records would increase the risk of medical malpractice claims. Although both of these concerns have slowed implementation of electronic record keeping systems in many medical facilities throughout the country, research released by Harvard medical professionals may debunk these fears.
Details of the Study
According to an Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management at Harvard, implementation of these systems may save up to $100 billion a year in healthcare costs. This figure may help make the initial $20 to $200 million start up cost a bit more manageable, particularly when paired with stimulus incentives that can result in reimbursement if hospitals are able to demonstrate that implementing the system increases the quality of care provided to patients.
A second study also indicated that a move to electronic medical records will "improve quality and safety" of the medical care provided to patients. This was supported by data that showed participating doctors saw a drop in medical malpractice claims after changing to electronic files.
The use of electronic files allows medical professionals to easily access patient information. As a result, some argue they are also less likely to have errors because physicians can quickly identify problems.