Interesting Fact: Per person, the US spends more than any other country on health care. Yet, the United States has been ranked 50th in the world for average life expectancy.
Experts believe a key to lowering costs and increasing life expectancy is the use of EHR/EMR technology to store medical records electronically. 28% of health facilities use this system, but generous incentives ($66,000 for doctor’s and more for hospitals) are expected to increase usage. Want to learn more? Here are some other fascinating facts about EHR in the USA:
Medical Errors Kill More People than AIDS
Interesting Fact: Hospitals using EHR/EMR systems have a 3 to 4% lower mortality rate than those that don’t. 195,000 patients are killed each year because of medical errors.
Mistakes including misdiagnoses, operating on the wrong body part or the wrong patient, or performing the wrong procedure, are a big concern. To put this in perspective, let’s compare the number of deaths caused by medical errors each year to other causes of premature mortality:
- Auto Accidents – 42,000
- Breast Cancer – 39,000
- AIDS – 18,000
EHR/EMR systems provide a centralized location for a patient’s entire medical history. Using this repository, health-care providers access data that is better organized and searchable, making it easier to prevent errors.
EHR/EMR is a Cheaper Than Paper
Interesting Fact: Most American hospitals spend 25% of available funds on administration. During the first 15 years of implementation, EHR/EMR could save a total of $42 billion each year. After the 15-year point, the savings are forecast to reach $77 billion per annum.
Even though this amount is just a drop in the bucket compared to the $2.24 trillion the US pays each year for health care, it’s a great start to lower overall cost. At this point, any progress in the right direction is a good thing. Because most people don’t have any frame of reference to make $77 billion relative to their own lives, here’s what that much money can buy:
- You could buy every single NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB team for $65 billion.
- In 2010, the total budget for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was $76.8 billion.
- The entire U.S. mass transit system could be repaired for $77.7 billion.
Health-Care Workers Spend More Time on Patients Using EHR/EMR
Interesting Fact: The average doctor spends 8 hours a week on paperwork. This amounts to 336,336,000 hours per year in the US—spent on administration instead of patient care.
Most people don’t think about this part of health care, but medical offices are drowning in paperwork. In addition to maintaining records, they have to fill out forms for insurance, employers, schools, and other reasons.
- EHR/EMR systems allow nurses to spend 15-26% more time monitoring patients.
- With paper records, each doctor needs 1.66 hours of a clerical time in addition to his own to complete paperwork.
The U.S. Trails Most Other Developed Countries in EHR/EMR Implementation
Interesting Fact: The United States has a 28% EHR adoption rate. In the Netherlands, 98% of health records are stored as an EHR.
The United States is known as a leader in technology in almost every other area. Public opinion allowed reluctant medical facilities to lag due to concerns about privacy and reliability. Here are the implementation rates of a few more foreign countries:
- Germany – 42%
- Australia – 79%
- United Kingdom – 89%
- New Zealand – 92%
The Future of EHR/EMR
As part of the stimulus package created in 2009, Congress set aside $33 billion to make EHR/EMR a larger part of the health-care system. It is expected that these systems include patients’ medical histories, current diagnoses, test results, prescribed medications, and insurance information.
Don’t be surprised if you see a computer screen instead of a paper-filled folder the next time you go to the doctor! EHR implementation is picking up in the USA, thanks to incentives and—well—common sense!