published Sunday, May 26th, 2013

More doctors, hospitals using electronic records

The Obama administration says more doctors and hospitals are embracing technology as adoption of computerized medical records reaches a majority of physician offices across America.

A new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says more than 50 percent of doctors' offices and four of every five hospitals have transitioned from paper to electronic records, thanks partly to more than $14 billion in government incentive payments.

"We have reached a tipping point in adoption of electronic health records," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. "Health IT provides better coordinated care, which can improve patients' health and save money at the same time."

The hope is that electronic records will make caring for patients safer and less costly, by helping avoid mistakes and cutting down on duplication.

But others say there's still a long way to go. An outside group's report last year found little progress in getting medical computers in different offices to talk to each other. Concerns have also surfaced about patient privacy and vulnerability to fraud.

A study in 2011-2012 fiscal year showed that Tennessee ranked 30th among the 50 states in adopting electronic health records.

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