The handwriting on your prescription isn’t the only thing about the typical doctor that’s hard to understand.
Several recent studies have shown that the vast majority of doctors in the U.S. have not adopted the standardized use of Electronic Health Records (EHR), and one expert believes it’s one of the driving forces behind rising healthcare costs.
Preliminary estimates from the 2010 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS), which is conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), showed that the percentage of physicians with EHRs that met the criteria of a basic EHR system by state ranged from 12.5 percent to 51.5 percent. However, after excluding 27 states with unreliable estimates, the percentage of physicians having fully functional systems that met the criteria ranged from only 9.7 percent to 27.2 percent.
“Tracking medical problems can prevent complications of chronic illnesses such as heart attacks, strokes and can increase the overall quality of care,” said Dr. Angel Garcia, CEO of EHR solutions provider Global Medical Consultants. “Moreover, the cost savings of having widespread adoption of EHR in the U.S. healthcare industry would reduce healthcare costs by more than 30 percent per year – a savings of more than $720 billion per year. That’s actually more than enough savings to insure all 47 million Americans currently without health insurance.”
What perplexes Garcia is the new data just released that suggests almost one-third of physicians now own an iPad. According to a report by the American Medical News in April 2011, nearly 33 percent of all doctors indicate they own the new technology. Another report from the market research firm Knowledge Networks stated that 27 percent of primary care and specialty physicians own an iPad or similar device, five times the rate of the general population.
What’s unclear, according to Dr. Garcia, is the role the technology has in their practice.
“When you compare the power of tablet and cloud computing with a strong EHR adoption rate, the potential for savings and markedly increased quality of patient care could skyrocket,” said Dr. Garcia, also author of Do No Harm: Saving Our Health Care System. “The problem is that doctors aren’t incorporating both these elements. Let’s face it – some doctors are surfing the web and downloading movies and music on a device that could help save the industry that is in crisis. It’s time for the healthcare industry to catch up to every other industry in the civilized world and adopt an electronic solution for not just record-keeping but more importantly clinical tracking of medical problems that will make their patients safer and healthcare affordable.”
About Dr. Angel Garcia: Angel M. Garcia, M.D. is a practicing physician with more than twenty-five years of clinical experience. Dr. Garcia designed electronic medical records to improve medical care by tracking medical problems for thirty-two medical and surgical specialties. Dr. Garcia was a five-time guest speaker at the National Medical Records Institute annual scientific meetings. In 2001, Dr. Garcia was selected as a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and was a guest of President George Bush at the White House for the High-Tech Leaders Forum and the Economic Leaders Forum.