Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Digital Healthcare

By Mark Brousseau

There’s a lot of talk these days – driven largely by the Obama Administration – about electronic medical records and the potential cost savings that they could provide to the healthcare industry. The 2009 federal stimulus bill, the Congressional Budget Office notes, allocates 436 billion for doctors to install electronic records.

And there’s plenty of room for growth. The New England Journal of Medicine reports that only 17 percent of the 633,000 doctors in the United States have electronic medical records in their outpatient offices. Moreover, just 9 percent of the 5,708 hospitals in the United States (excluding Veterans Administration hospitals) have electronic medical records, according to the American Hospital Association.

In addition to potential cost savings, digitizing healthcare could also improve patient care: JAMA reports that 55 percent of serious drug errors can be stopped by a computer ordering system.

What do you think? Post your comments below.

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