A few weeks ago, Bloomberg released a report showing the prevalence of the use of paperless medical records around the country. The in-depth report examined how each state and Washington, D.C. stacked up against the national average for paperless recordkeeping, which is currently 39.6 percent.
The top five states and their respective paperless medical records percentage, according to the survey, were Wisconsin at 70.6 percent, Minnesota at 66.7 percent, North Dakota at 63.2 percent, Massachusetts at 61.8 percent and Utah at 60.8 percent. The areas with the smallest percentages of paperless recordkeeping were the District of Columbia at 22.4 percent, Louisiana at 25 percent, Connecticut and New Jersey at 26.9 percent and Kentucky at 27.2 percent.
So why should we care where our states fall in the Bloomberg report?
Paperless medical recordkeeping is not only good for the planet, but it also helps to decrease the likelihood of medical errors. This can protect people from malpractice, which can help to keep health care costs to a minimum. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health passed in 2009 mandates that hospitals make the shift to paperless recordkeeping, but most private practices are not required to comply.
If you're concerned about digital recordkeeping, start by talking to the office manager at your own doctor's office. Find out if the practice is completely paperless and express your views about the issue. The more people speak up to their medical providers, the more likely doctors will be to listen. Also, you can contact your state medical board and express your views. With the encouragement of the state boards, doctors may be more willing to make the shift to paperless systems. You can find the address, phone number and website on the State Federation of Medical Boards' website.