Topic: Whether EMR should be a government or private sector initiative
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Electronic medical records are required by law.

This is not an entirely accurate statement. Healthcare organizations such as hospitals and doctors’ offices are free to keep records as they see fit, but according to the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 (HITECH), providers who do not use electronic medical records (EMR’s) will receive reduced Medicare and Medicaid. (Some authors use the term “electronic health record” (EHR). In this paper the two terms are used interchangeably.) On the other hand, providers who implement EMR’s will receive incentive payments ranging up to $44,000 for Medicare providers and $63,500 for Medicaid providers to $2 million for hospitals and critical access hospitals. (Healthit,gov, “Learn EHR Basics”, 2013) The incentives (both carrot and stick) are there for a mass conversion to EMR’s.

Why are electronic medical records important? The first and most important reason is that they promote patient safety. In 1999, the Institute of Medicine published a report entitled “To Err is Human” that proclaimed that between 44,000 and 98,000 hospital patients die annually from preventable medical errors arising from “faulty systems, processes and conditions.”...

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