Interesting story and it amazes me as well when I still see a 2 inch thick file with either staff or the the physician taking an enormous amount of time to dig through for past history and sometimes I see paper articles fall out of the charts accidentally.  Even in a small office, there are enough affordable solutions to keeping better records, even if one cannot afford the large ticket electronic medical records.   The records can be kept within the office until standards are someday created whereby a united system comes into play, but in the mean time important patient health items are simply missed with thumbing through huge paper charts.  I have also seen some physicians who take the time to document a chart in a computer, but then still have the staff drag out the old paper chart instead of viewing the chart on the screen or at minimum print a report for the file, but they still rely on the sometimes illegible and incomplete notes.  In other words they take the time to document but don't reap the rewards of their time spent documenting, thus some of the patient health concerns can be missed when the patient comes in for the next visit. 

Some MDs seem to just not "comprehend" as far as having the information available in a nice formatted screen that give a pretty good snapshot of the patient chart overall, complete with history and graphs.  Time after time I see huge drives of "Word" documents that are barely one step above paper charts, in other words, you still have to find and view the information with a search process, when medical records make this available with a couple clicks of the mouse and in a nice formatted view, and it can usually be transferred to another program with a data transfer, something you can't do with a Word document without manually manipulating each chart.  Programs are created that allow for an export to a Word document if needed too, but again, hanging on to the old "big chunks of documented text"  whether on paper or on a document created by a word processing program still seem to befuddle many.  There are 2 steps to the process, one being documentation, and two is re-using and quick referencing patient chart data, the 2nd one is the issue many MDs still seem to struggle with as it relates to viewing a chart on a computer screen and not a paper chart.  BD

Meanwhile, patient privacy issues, complaints about costs, competition among technology providers and doctors' apparent reluctance to embrace the system have left many medical records in the informational Stone Age.

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 1 in 10 U.S. physicians in 2005 were using systems that included prescription and diagnostic test orders, test results and physician notes, which are vital to a complete health information network.

Insurance companies, which have come under fire for cherry picking the healthiest patients or limiting payments to members, make up another sector that stands to benefit from digital information to find the most effective treatments.

"The good and the bad is that it <keeping digital records> makes things more transparent," Agus said.

U.S. health info technology lags -


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