About half of doctors use electronic records

July 19, 2012

Just about half of doctors are using electronic health records, according to Health and Human Services' latest survey on the issue:


That's a pretty high number, historically-speaking: As recently as 2005, just about a quarter of doctors' offices had gone digital.

In the larger scheme of technological adaption, however, it's dishearteningly low. Imagine walking into a bank, handing over a deposit, and watching your bank teller dutifully copy down the amount onto a pad of paper and stash it away in a file folder. It would feel a bit like a scene from decades ago.

But that's pretty much what we still do at a lot of our doctors' offices: Our vital signs and various prescriptions get scrawled onto doctors' notepads and stored away in vast filing cabinets. Bad handwriting, meanwhile, can be bad for your health: One study, which looked at an Australian hospital switching to an electronic prescribing system, saw errors drop by 60 percent. Right now, that's only happening in a small majority of American doctors' offices.

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Ezra Klein · July 19, 2012