MEDICAL RECORDS COMING OUT OF THE DARK AGES

A pilot program in Connecticut will transfer all of a hospital’s paper records into electronic form, courtesy of Sage Healthcare Intergy.

It’s a tech subject that allows us to rant on one of our favorite pet peeves:  that something as vital as health care is still in the dark ages. You can rent a movie 24 hours a day, get email notifications from any company, and get lower prices on better products every time you visit an electronics store. But when it comes to medicine, prices continually rise and problems abound. There are at least three reasons:

  • The over-used insurance system (If car insurance were like health insurance, we’d use it for tune-ups.) This makes people less price-sensitive, because after all, “insurance is paying for it.”*
  • Frivolous lawsuits.
  • Lack of competition among doctors. Physicians’ assistants and nurses, for example, can’t open their own practice.

*In the U.S. in the 1940s, there were wage and price controls. Employers who wanted to raise wages were stuck. So they started offering insurance benefits instead of wage increases. A few years later, the I.R.S. started taxing them for this and there were howls of protests. So a law was passed that gave employers a tax break for offering benefits. Gradually Americans started using insurance for everything and became less price-sensitive.

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