Our Pen-and-Paper Doctors

NY Times

With electronic health records seen widely as a way to make medical care better and possibly cheaper, it is disturbing how slowly they are being adopted by American physicians. If this country does not accelerate the conversion from paper to modern technologies, many of the gauzy promises of health care reform made by politicians and health planners will become irrelevant.

The bad news about electronic health records was gathered in a survey of 2,700 practicing physicians led by researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital, with financial support from the federal government and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The results were published online by The New England Journal of Medicine.

The study found that a paltry 4 percent of the doctors had a “fully functional” electronic records system that would allow them to view laboratory data, order prescriptions and help them make clinical decisions, while another 13 percent had more basic systems.

This is a startling contrast with other industrialized nations.

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