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Journal Articles Question Plan for Digital Health Records - NYTimes.com
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Thu, 26 Mar 2009 08:42:11 -0400


Now that the federal government plans to spend $19 billion to spur the use of computerized patient records, the challenge of adopting the technology widely and wisely is becoming increasingly apparent.

Two articles, to be published on Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, point to the formidable obstacles to achieving the policy goal of not only installing electronic health records, but also using them to improve care and curb costs.

One article reports that only 9 percent of the nation’s hospitals have electronic health records, based on a survey of nearly 3,000 hospitals. The study, financed by the federal government and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is the most definitive measure to date of the use of computerized patient records by hospitals. The government-backed study found a far lower level of use than some earlier, less rigorous surveys.

The study, the authors said, measured only the adoption of digital patient records. The survey did not ask whether the electronic records were used to advance the health policy goals of the federal plan, like tracking the quality of care and communicating effectively with outside specialists and clinics to coordinate a patient’s care.


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