President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 brought many changes and updates to the American healthcare system, all of which have received mixed reviews. One major part of this act, which many Americans may be unaware is even included, is the effects that using or not using electronic medical records will have on physicians. While the act seems to directly affect only physicians and medical professionals, the reality is that patients across the country will likely be significantly impacted by a physician’s choice to either use or not use electronic medical records.

According to the healthcare act, physicians who choose to implement electronic medical records quickly and effectively into their practice will be given certain rewards by the government, in an effort to improve the quality of care patients receive and to cut down on healthcare costs. If a medical office or practitioner chooses to switch over soon enough and uses the records in a way that meets government standards, they may have a large majority of their costs in doing so covered by the government, in addition to potentially receiving other incentives. However, should a medical professional fail to begin using electronic medical records effectively by 2015 they could be penalized by receiving reduced reimbursement rates when treating Medicare patients.

This move to electronic medical records has received both positive and negative reviews. A large number of the negative reactions to this push to use more technology have come from patients’ fears that their personal information will be shared with the government, thus reducing the care they will receive, particularly for those on Medicare or who are older and have more health problems. However, many proponents of electronic medical records argue that this is not the case. Many state that patients will continue to receive the care they need and, in response to those who fear the government having access to their private medical information, that the government was already receiving information about patients who are on Medicare through insurance claims as it’s a government program.

Largely, the medical field has had many positive responses to the switch to electronic medical records, as many feel that it will improve the quality of healthcare, rather than decrease it. With the ability to quickly access any patient’s comprehensive medical history, a doctor doesn’t have to waste time searching their paper records, can make more informed treatment decisions, and is more likely to avoid making drastic mistakes, such as prescription errors. Not only do many feel that this will go a long way towards preventing serious medical errors from harming patients, but a number of physicians have already seen it improve the number of patients who are receiving the care, both preventative and immediate treatment, that they need. Additionally, this increased efficiency is predicted to save money by reducing administrative duties and hours spent on activities not directly related to treatment and by reducing the number of patients who need to seek exorbitantly costly medical care for exacerbated conditions. Thus, while there have been some concerns voiced about the quality of doctor-patient communication and the high cost of switching to a more technology-driven medical field, there have also been a good number of positive opinions on this change. If there was an error in recording medical information in your case, this is considered medical malpractice and could potentially be pursued further in court.

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