Doctors part with cash, habits to go paperless

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They hope records switch saves time, money, lives

Dr. Tony Alamo grips a patient’s file — three inches of notes, lab results and pages of vital signs crammed into a manila folder — and compares it to the computer monitor in one of his exam rooms.

The folder is the traditional way doctors have kept their medical records. It’s worn and tattered, not easy to leaf through to find buried information and requires expert skills in handwriting interpretation.

The computer is his pride now. In the past year he’s converted to an electronic medical records system at his internal-medicine practice.

Alamo describes the paper file, the type of records kept in about 80 percent of small medical practices nationwide, as “cumbersome” and “difficult.” Still, he calls it “my comfort zone.”

“When you do it this way for 20 years it doesn’t bother you,” he says, holding up the fat manila file folder.

The government wants to spur doctors to make the transition to electronic medical records because of the benefits for patients, hospitals, insurance payers and the doctors themselves: fewer errors, less waste, reduced costs and greater patient confidence.

Read the full article here

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