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Letter highlights hurdles in digitizing health records

Boston Globe, January 6, 2009
As Barack Obama prepares to spend billions on health information technology, some specialists are warning against investing too heavily in existing electronic recordkeeping systems. In a recent letter to Obama, a top technology adviser to the American Academy of Family Physicians said that current systems are expensive, cumbersome to use, and cannot easily exchange information about patients' health histories and treatments among different hospitals, labs, and doctors' offices. The letter said that while some of a proposed stimulus package could be spent on electronic health records, the bulk of it should go toward simpler and cheaper technology, such as rewarding doctors for using computers to communicate with patients and for specialist referrals.