Docs have rough go transitioning to digital records - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Docs have rough go transitioning to digital records

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

A poll released at the end of April revealed 42 percent of Americans think the Affordable Healthcare Act has been overturned.

That's not the case, and it is being implemented around the country. You may have noticed some of the changes happening in your own doctor's office.

The federal government is requiring all physicians to switch over to an electronic medical record system. Some doctors in the Mid-South admit they are having a tough time making the transition.

The Obama administration says it's all about patient safety and saving money and the government is giving doctors financial incentives to switch over to electronic medical records.

Dr. Charles Wallace, who runs his own urology practice in Memphis, made the switch to electronic medical records and he's still getting used to the new system.

"It does take away from the clinical examination and from the relationship that you have the patient," Dr. Wallace admits. "I would much prefer that not to be the case."

Doctors, medical practices and hospitals around the country are making the switch from traditional to electronic medical records. But it's costly, especially for physicians who run their own offices.

"The expense is there and no one really recognizes that until they get involved and that's really a lot of the resistance," Dr. Wallace said.

The federal government is offering incentives for doctors to make the switch, but the process moves slowly.

"There's no question that it is an advantage to have 24-hour access to a patients electronic medical record," said Dr. Starner Jones, who has used digital medical records since his residency. Dr. Jones says they improve safety and prevent costly repeat medical tests, but the ER physician doesn't want a mandate coming from Washington, D.C.

"I would prefer that doctors who are in the trenches, those who have been doing this a long time and those who have been out of residency for just a few years, like myself, have been enveloped in the process," Dr. Jones said. "But instead it appears to be a hostile take over of one-sixth of the American economy and the electronic medical records are only a small part of that."

Reliability is another concern for healthcare professionals. If a system crashes it can bring a practice to a standstill.

"The biggest fear in most with most any practice that has changed over to electronic medical records is the fear of breakdown and service, Dr. Wallace said, who has worked hard to find the best system for his practice and customized it for how he practices medicine.

"That doesn't happen overnight and it can be definitely painstaking in the process," Dr. Wallace said. "But the end result it's good and I'm glad that I'm doing it."

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