The New York Medical Malpractice Law Blog – which I found via the New York Personal Injury Attorney Blog – reports on something I did not know: electronic medical records are now being widely utilized in Great Britain. For one, York Hospital is now using electronic medical records in an effort to improve communication among doctors in treating patients.
The reality is that this is a public safety issue, but it’s also an “it is 2008 and we have no money left in the budget” issue. The federal government pays for nearly 40% of the over $1.3 trillion spent on medical care in this country and spends millions more providing disability benefits to medical malpractice victims. Besides saving potentially thousands of lives, electronic medical records will reduce the costs associated with medical malpractice, and the government and our health care system will see significant savings in the long run. This will decrease medical malpractice lawsuits which will lower medical malpractice premiums.
All good. What is the problem? The problem is the cost. While a national system of computerized medical records is on Obama’s wish list, that list is getting cutback as we look at the economic realities of our federal budget considering our country’s financial crisis. Ironically, this is the perfect project for deficit spending because it is not a money pit – electronic medical records will save us more in the long run than the 3% interest the government would pay for the investment. But while I’d love to be wrong about this, I do not see a great push for electronic medical records in Obama’s first term.