Tuesday, April 13, 2010

WSJ Briefs – EHR and Doctor Shortfalls, April 13, 2010

Key words – EHRs, Information technologies, errors, savings, medical schools, primary care, doctor shortages

1. “Can Technology Cure Health Care?” Not so far. After 5 years of promotion, EHRs have not yet delivered on promises of more savings, reduced errors, and increased efficiencies. Hospitals with advanced EHRs are no safer than hospitals without EHRs. Doctors complain EHRs focus too much on billing, distract from patients, have too many irrelevant options, and slow work down. Maybe phasing EHRs in slowly and reducing doctor workload during phase-in will help.

2. “Medical Schools Can’t Keep Up.” As ranks of insured grow, nation will be 150,000 doctors short in 15 years. There are now 954,000 doctors, 372,000 in primary care. By 2020, will need 45,000 more in primary care. Four new medical schools now on drawing board will not dent need, partly because Congress in bill did not fund new primary care residency slots. Greatest shortages now in West (Idaho, Nevada, and Utah), Southwest (Texas, Oklahoma), and South (Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia), and inner cities.

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