The health industry, like any other modernized industry, is dependent on technology to operate efficiently. Technology allows physicians and other medical staff to better receive, handle, and care for patients. However before that can happen, the health records belonging to the patient have to be accessed and reviewed. Health records are important documents that provide physicians with vital information about patients.
Health records have traditionally been in paper form, but there is a drive to convert all records into an electronic format. Paper records are inefficient because they consume space, are costly to maintain, and require time to locate. They are also prone to misplacement or damage, which incurs replacement costs. Lawmakers recognize these flaws and are pushing to have all health records replaced by electronic ones. New legislation part of the $838 billion stimulus bill would have the medical records of every American citizen digitized and electronically stored in databases. With health files formatted as electronic files healthcare providers will be able to quickly access and update information as needed.
The move towards electronic health records has already begun on an individualized basis, since many physicians have made the transition towards computerized records. According to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2008, 38.4% of physicians were using full or partial electronic health records systems. Health records are digitized through a technology known as optical character recognition, which allows scans to be converted into text searchable and editable documents. As electronic files, medical records become more efficient and accessible.