Dr. David Blumenthal was the national coordinator for promoting electronic health records (EHR) from 2009 to 2011. He summarizes the economic incentive and inertia surrounding the adoption of EHR (James Fallows, “The Paper Cure” The Atlantic, April 2014, pp. 26–28):
“From the patient’s perspective, this is a no-brainer. The benefits are substantial. But from the provider’s perspective, there are substantial costs in setting up and using the systems. Until now, providers haven’t recovered those costs, either in payment or in increased satisfaction, or in any other way.” (p. 26)
This of course is not surprising. Many times what works well for the patient does not necessarily immediately appeal to the healthcare provider. This does not mean that the providers are unaware of the genuine benefits. It simply means that they are too encumbered with other concerns to break the inertial grip to execute EHR. This is especially true when money is involved as Blumenthal goes on to explain:
“Ultimately, there are of course benefits to the professional as well. It’s beyond question that you become a better physician, a better nurse, a better manager when you have the digital data at your fingertips. But the costs are considerable, and they have fallen on people who have no economic incentive to make the transition.”
As with any transition from paper to digital, not being able to experience the immediate benefit and cost savings tends to discourage end users. Logically, the businessperson knows that the future cost savings will justify the immediate expenses. We can only hope that the healthcare community will catch on to that as quickly as possible.