One of the more promising paths to health care savings pushed by Obamacare was the migration from paper based records to electronic records. Unfortunately, it looks like health care providers are not moving to electronic systems nearly as fast as predicted.
Such a shame. Electronic records will eventually be the future. It’s just going to take much longer than anticipated to get there. There are many reasons for this.
Primary among them, in my opinion, is a lack of standardization. The whole idea of savings related to electronic records is the simple exchange of information from one doctor’s office to the next and to the hospital and to the pharmacist and to the specialist. So instead of many different offices having many different records, you have one set of electronic records that is shared among them. The problem we are seeing is that doctor’s office A implements one system and doctor’s office B implements another system and system A can’t talk to system B. So we end up spending millions of dollars to implement these systems and they end up being no better than the paper system.
This is where governmental standardization would be ideal. Let the private market create as many electronic record keeping systems as they want, but mandate that the data will be stored exactly the same way regardless of the system. Insurance information will be stored like X. CAT scans will be stored like Y. Blood tests will be stored like Z.
Think of the health care system like infrastructure. Health records are like roads. The government controls how they are built. All of the health care providers are connected to the roads. The roads can take you anywhere you need to go.
Of course, I recognize that this is pie-in-the-sky thinking. The guvmint can’t be trusted to do anything including govern. Or so they say. Really, though, this is the path we need to take for the promised savings. It’s a shame we’ll never take it.