ATLANTA, Feb. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Hospitals, clinics and office-based physicians are increasingly turning to electronic medical records as they prepare for the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care (PPAHC) act, says Albert Woodard, CEO of Atlanta-based Business Computer Applications, a company devoted to digitizing medical records.
"Medical practitioners are bracing for a triple whammy as, in addition to the PPAHC, they are also facing a wave of retiring baby boomers coupled with a predicted shortage of qualified medical staff," says Woodard. Some 80 million aging baby boomers are landing on Medicare roles at a rate of 7,000 a day according to AARP; the PPAHC is expected to flood the system with another 32 million patients; and a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services forecast says health care staff shortages will worsen in 2014.
"The strain all of this will put on our health care system is enormous," says Woodard, "thus forcing medical providers to search for more efficient and effective methods to operate their practices."
Woodard singled out a December 2012 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicating that across the U.S. office-based physicians are increasingly turning to electronic medical records (EMRs). "EMRs can aid in improving quality of care, reduce errors and increase efficiency by making patients' medical history accessible to anybody who treats them," he says.Paper records, which most physicians have traditionally relied on, will no longer be practical or effective. A study published by the RAND Health Information Technology Project (HIT) says the U.S. healthcare system is the world's largest and most inefficient enterprise with most records still stored on paper, which means that they cannot be used to coordinate care, routinely measure quality, or reduce medical errors.