Wright said one of the biggest barriers may be cost. "The incentive money helps, but it probably doesn't cover the whole cost," he said.
And, some physicians may be concerned about drops in productivity as a new system is implemented. "What we've seen is that when you first put it in, it does hinder productivity a bit as people get used to it. But, over time, productivity picks back up and enables doctors to do a whole other realm of things they couldn't do before," Wright said.
Maureen Gaffney, chief medical information officer at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y., said doctors are definitely concerned about a possible drop in productivity, but the doctors at her hospital who've implemented electronic health records haven't reported any significant change in productivity. She said they had to work an additional 45 minutes to two hours a day for the first two weeks, but their working hours quickly returned to normal after that.
Gaffney's hospital has been providing significant support to its private-practice doctors, however. She said the hospital hired temporary workers to input basic information, such as drug allergies and medical conditions, so that the first time the physicians opened their electronic medical records, they already had pertinent information available to them.
Gaffney said another challenge to getting doctors on-board with electronic records is the wide spectrum of computer skills, from non-existent to highly proficient. She said some older doctors have said they're going to retire in the next couple of years, so they're just not going to change the way they practice.
Gaffney said these physicians don't necessarily see the benefits that can be gained from electronic records. "The true benefit is the ability to exchange informat
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