Emily Singer

A View from Emily Singer

Incentives for Docs to go Digital

Right now, the major beneficiaries are insurers, not physicians.

  • September 26, 2008

Only about 15 percent of physicians in the United States are using electronic health records (EHR), a statistic that John Halamka, chief information officer and dean for technology at Harvard Medical School, aims to change.

During a panel discussion at Technology Review’s EmTech conference earlier this week, Halamka outlined the major barrier in getting physicians to adopt these systems: misaligned incentives. While EHRs should ultimately reduce costs, doctors must spend $40,000 to $50,000 to buy an EHR system, and they lose 20 percent of their productivity in the first few months. And, at the end of the day, insurers and payers rather than physicians reap the rewards, Halamka said. His thoughts echo those of Karen Bell, another panelist who spoke with Technology Review.

Halamka, who is also chief information officer of the CareGroup Health System, described how his company took the digital leap: it mandated that academic affiliates, and eventually other affiliates, use EHRs. To ease the burden, Caregroup subsidized the cost of the systems and provided a training team for physicians.

Halamka will outline his prescription for broader adoption of EHRs in a letter to the incoming president, which will be published in the next issue of Technology Review.

For Halamka’s perspective on Healthcare IT and beyond, check out his blog, “Life as a Healthcare CTO.”

Become an MIT Technology Review Insider for in-depth analysis and unparalleled perspective.

Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Rewriting Life

Reprogramming our bodies to make us healthier.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly magazine delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look: exclusive early access to important stories, before they’re available to anyone else

    Insider Conversations: listen in on in-depth calls between our editors and today’s thought leaders

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly magazine delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly magazine delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.