The Washington Post, March 16, 2011
With funding and technical support from his employer, Washington internist Brad Moore made a swift transition to electronic records seven years ago. He now pulls up a patient's chart with a few clicks of his mouse. Lab tests show the man, a diabetic, has his blood sugar under control. A surgeon's note describes progress after a shoulder operation. Before heading to the exam room, Moore, 47, clicks on a yellow "FYI" button, the electronic equivalent of a sticky note. It reminds him to ask how his patient is doing after his wife's recent death. About 20 miles away in suburban Maryland, internist Jonathan Plotsky hunts for the same kind of information in charts, some of them six inches thick, others taking up three volumes. He is well aware of the benefits of electronic records, but like most U.S. doctors, Plotsky, 56, is hesitant to switch. At up to $50,000 per clinician, the systems cost too much for him and the part-time doctor with whom he practices, he says. He doesn't know what to buy, how to install it or how he would transition to paperless. "I'm waiting to see what will work for people," he says. "The cost is prohibitive. It won't be any more revenue, and it will change the way I do things."