18 May Dragging health records into the Digital Age
Walk though a typical Kaiser Permanente doctor’s office or hospital, and you won’t find a paper chart lying around. Kaiser, with 450 hospitals and offices around the country, is almost entirely paperless.
But as the rest of the health care industry rushes to follow in Kaiser’s digital footsteps, Kaiser’s paperless success story–a 10-year, $4 billion effort–might actually serve as a cautionary tale.
By no means has the Kaiser e-health project failed. In fact, besides some hiccups, it has gone well: Kaiser said it has seen more satisfied patients and a slight dip in emergency room visits and hospital stays, which cuts costs. Even the doctors grumbling the loudest beforehand don’t know what they would do if they were forced back to paper.
Unfortunately, the rest of the health care system looks nothing like Kaiser.
Kaiser is a rare beast: both an insurance provider and medical provider. Investing in digital technology was projected to create efficiencies in its medical services and boost the bottom line.
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