With an EHR, she also can send notes
to her patients’ primary care doctors
quickly and frequently, with patient
“I can get a good overall, in-depth idea
of what they’ve been through, what kind of
discussions they have already had about
their end of life choices,” Christenson says.
“There’s a lot of ground I don’t need to
cover with them
because I already
know it. I’m able
overall to spend less
time with a chart
and more time with
isn’t part of any
many agree massive
change is the right
prescription for the
health care industry,
there are a number
of people avoiding
jumping on the tech
bandwagon. It might
sound great in theory, but in practice, it
can be confusing and difficult, leading
some doctors desiring to cling on to their
clipboards and prescription pads.
“For their entire careers, doctors have
had the same ways of doing things. They’ve
tracked their information in a paper chart;
they know how to find certain pieces of
information; they are consistent in how it’s
tracked,” says Derek Kosiorek, a consultant
at the Medical Group Management
Association, who helps doctor practices
across the country implement electronic
health records and other technologies.
“And now, the industry, society, is
taking that method of doing things and
completely turning it on its ear,” he says.
“We are taking every piece of information
that’s in a paper chart, shuffling it like a
deck of cards, and placing it on a computer
screen and asking them not only to find
the information, but to continue to add
information in different ways than they’ve
always done it.”
Their hesitance—and resistance—to a
transition is both “very understandable and
very difficult,” Kosiorek says.
“It’s to the point where
if you went to the bank
and they weren’t using
computers, you would
not use them as your
transition 25 to 30 years ago.
“It’s to the point where if you went to the
bank and they weren’t using computers,
you would not use them as your bank
anymore,” he says. “And that’s where the
medical industry is going.”
The U.S. health department is even
on a mission to push health information
technology, kicking off a campaign that
prioritizes it in 2013. One major initiative
is to accelerate the adoption of electronic
health records among physicians—aiming
for half of all physician offices to use them
by year-end—while also aiming to improve
The administration also offered
incentives to doctors who adopt EHRs, and
assessed penalties to those who do not.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner
says they will “improve the way care is
delivered while lowering costs.
“Health IT and the secure exchange of
information across providers are crucial
to reforming the system, and must be a
routine part of care delivery,” she says.
offices are using iPads for checking X-rays.
Other doctors are talking to their patients
about healthy living via email or blog posts
rather than in the patient room. Patients
can check and track important health
indicators in their personal records online.
Then, of course, there are EHRs, which
are supposed to singlehandedly change
how millions upon millions of patients are
being tracked. They were intended to make
life a little easier for everyone, yet adoption
has been sluggish and systems have been
imperfect. Ultra-smart technologies won’t
be efficient or ultra-anything if health
providers choose not to embrace them.
TIME FOR CHANGE
Technology has revolutionized virtually
every other industry, and it’s only a matter
of time until the health care world fully
embraces it, experts say.
Kosiorek, for one, points out that the
banking industry went through the same
But not everyone agrees. One argument is
that the ongoing evolution of health IT will
take the focus off of patient care.
“Doctors sometimes use the excuse that
patients don’t feel as comfortable because
they are spending time in front of the
computer, but patients feel better when
there’s a computer in the room because
they feel that their information is getting
tracked better,” Kosiorek says.
It’s also safe to say doctors are somewhat
set in their ways.
“They are to the point that they
acknowledge there are advantages, but not
to the point where they’re seeing them yet,”
Just like anyone else who’s an expert in
their profession, seasoned doctors naturally
are more hesitant to adopt new ways of
doing things. Some are even choosing
to retire early instead of learning how to
implement and work new technology.