New technology can be slow to catch on within a sector. Hospitals have generally seen the usefulness in digitizing their hospital records, but they have been incredibly slow to implement electronic health records. In 2008, only 17 percent of doctors were using digital health records, according to The New York Times.
After President Obama issued a stimulus to doctors and hospitals to incentivize document management, the practice has been picking up steam. Kaiser Permanente, for example, has now completely implemented a paperless approach to healthcare, after embarking on a $4 billion dollar effort that started in 2002. The belief is that streamlining the process allows doctors to spend more time focusing on care. Digitization also has the potential to eliminate duplicate testing of a patient that can occur if the process is not adequately recorded.
While there is still some debate lingering about the true usefulness of the digital movement, most hospitals concur that the practice improves care and efficiency, according to CNET. The ultimate goal behind having electronic records is to have a patient enter any hospital in the world and have his or her doctors be up to date on previous symptoms, medications and diagnoses. With the push of a button, a physician will be ten steps ahead of where he or she would have been without the information. Yet, even though the number of doctors using the technology has more than doubled in the last four years, we may still be a long way off from widespread integration.