Three-fourths of the nation’s doctors practice in small offices, with 10 doctors or fewer. For most of them, an investment in digital health records looks like a cost for which they are not reimbursed.It is scarcely surprising, then, that only about 17 percent of the nation’s physicians are using computerized patient records, according to a government-sponsored survey published last year in The New England Journal of Medicine.
“This is really not a technology problem,” observed Erik Brynjolfsson, an economist at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It’s a matter of incentives and market failure.”
That market failure is a principal target of the Obama administration’s plan. A main feature of the legislation calls for incentive payments of more than $40,000 spread over a few years for a physician who buys and uses electronic health records.