One of the fundamental necessities for the proper delivery of health care is the rapid and accurate dissemination of a patient's medical information to associated providers, laboratories, hospitals and other health care institutions.
The lack of such services reduces efficiency, increases costs, impairs outcomes and can be responsible for increased morbidity and even mortality in the unforeseen instance. Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems have been tagged as the means of reconciling these shortcomings.
Current initiatives by federal, state and local governments in association with charitable and not-for-profit institutions, hospitals, insurance companies and large physician practices are attempting to facilitate the introduction of EMRs through specialized incentives and programs, but are still in the process of establishing a common ground from which to build a foundation.
Targeted providers from all disciplines have expressed reluctance in the past to incorporating new technologies, such as EMRs or personal health records (PHRs), due to fears of productivity loss, decreased revenue, legacy fees and perpetual dependence on established systems.
Government agencies, eager to utilize stimulus monies to facilitate adoption of these technologies by constituents, are in a good position to help introduce and overcome initial costs, but are unable to offer complete long-term solutions into the foreseeable future without continued dependence on grants, aid and other programs. At some stage in the process costs will need to be shifted to the end-user. The infusion of government capital upsets the natural balance of the free market.
Grants, aids, charitable donations and continued fiscal offering by government agencies can serve to raise awareness, but cannot cover the costs of long-term hardware and software upgrades, security needs, maintenance and support; keeping in mind also that for an EMR to be successful a provider will demand nearly 24/7 uptime, security and accessibility.
As with most complex problems, it is my belief that only through mobilizing and focusing resources from the private sector will this problem be eventually solved. The desire to lower costs, increase efficiency, improve the quality of life and the expectation of a reasonable financial return will be the guiding tenants for the eventual completion of this effort. Free market forces must be allowed to operate unhindered if there is to be hope of success...