Electronic Health Records: The Unintended Consequences

Patrick M. Palmer, MD

The electronic health record (EHR) market is huge and is here to stay, having been embraced by most physicians, insurers, government agencies, and hospital systems. The EHR industry generated $24 billion in global revenues in 2013 and has an anticipated growth rate of 10 percent per year through 2015. Recent studies show that 78 percent of physicians’ offices had adopted some form of EHR by 2013, and 83 percent of physicians use EHRs in their practices, in part due to the “carrot-and-stick” approach adopted by many stakeholders.

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), for example, provides a financial “carrot” to practices that meet the recently released Stage 2 Meaningful Use Criteria. These include 17 core objectives covering e-prescribing, encrypted patient emails, a secure patient portal, the recording of smoking status, and more. Physicians who can document interoperability between systems, data sharing, data transfer, and electronic communications with patients can receive up to $43,723 in incentive payment.

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