The majority of U.S. providers and hospitals still use paper records, which experts attribute to security concerns, cost barriers, few good software options, and a lack of leadership and incentives. Experts say the federal government could do a lot more to encourage providers and hospitals to adopt the technology.
BlueCross BlueShield of Massachusetts will not require physicians to adopt EMRs to participate in its bonus program, saying the financial benefits of EMRs do not warrant paying for them. However, the insurer said computerized physician-order entry will be required by 2012 for participants to be eligible for the bonus program.
The Medical Society of Milwaukee County plans to launch a database that will help doctors track and prevent painkiller abuse in the county. The society plans to standardize patient medication-management agreements to prevent doctors from operating in isolation and to seek legislation that would mandate a statewide system.
International Association of Dental and Medical Disciplines members who have online visits with their patients will receive reimbursement from Aetna and Cigna. "People can wait a long time to get in to see their primary care doctor and longer for a specialist. ... To have immediate access is huge," said a medical director for Aetna. More insurers are expected to follow.