Yes or No to Electronic Medical Records?

With the government incentive for medical facilities to start using electronic record equipment comes the speculation “is it worth it”?

The goal of these systems, says the government, is to improve the safety of the patients as well as efficiency. Also, it may reduce health care costs.

Both the Bush and Obama administrations, which are encouraging electronically records, claim that the system allows for doctors to more accurately track patient care as well as to help prevent duplicate testing. Also, a compelling plus, these systems can assist doctors with diagnosis by reminding doctors of options they may have not considered. Therefore, the government has a program encouraging doctors and hospitals to switch to electronic records with the incentive of tens of billions.

However, electronic record keeping creates a new level of fraudulent behavior, generally with overbilling. Many of the programs used, generate detailed patient histories automatically, and allow doctors to ‘clone’, where they cut and paste examination results from one patient to another making it appear that a patient received care he/she did not. The patient will then get billed for these procedures they did not receive resulting in drastic overbilling. These accusations are apparent in the statistics where hospitals that adopted electronic records showed a 47% rise in Medicare payments as opposed to hospitals without electronic records who’ve experienced a 32% rise between the years 2006 and 2010.

In conclusion, digital record keeping has its benefits. It makes life easier for doctors, as well as nurses struggling with reading they’re doctor’s handwriting. However, many security measures have to be implemented to make these programs so widespread. As a spokesman for the Health and Human Services Department stated, “ [Medicare] has strong protections in place to prevent fraud and abuse of this technology that we’re improving all the time.”

29. January 2013 by Ruth Folger Weiss
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