No Safety Oversight After $30 Billion Is Poured Into Digital Medical Records

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According to The Boston Globe, the United States Government has “poured $30 billion in taxpayer subsidies into the development of digital medical records beginning in 2009, with only a few strings attached and no safety oversight of the vendors who sell the systems.” Over the past five (5) years, healthcare providers have rapidly transitioned their records to digital environments to take advantage of Federal funds, but new risks and challenges have begun to surface as a result.

The article states, “from 2008 to 2013, the percent of US doctor’s offices with electronic health records rose from 17 percent to 48 percent. The increase in hospitals was even more dramatic, growing from 13 to 70 percent.” The growth has come at a price however. Lack of reporting and tracking of the digital systems, have led to “unsafe conditions, injuries, and deaths.”  A recent study conducted by CRICO, a Harvard-affiliated malpractice insurance group,  “found 147 instances in which the electronic health records contributed to ‘adverse events’ that affected patients- half of them designated as serious.”

The main goal of implementing digital computer record management systems was to drive savings and efficiencies.So far reality has fallen short of projections. In order to fully realize desired savings, the errors and misuse of the digital systems must decrease. Healthcare providers and specialists must continue to modify and improve digital systems in order to increase their effectiveness. Also, more intense system training must be provided to health care professionals in order to reduce the associated human error. The idea behind computerize medical records systems is spot on. Now it is time to work together to improve execution.

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