Digital Medical Records Debate

Posted by Paige Bresky --email

Billions of tax dollars are headed toward a program aimed at updating patient records.

The goal is to save money and more lives in the future.

Going to the doctor is going paperless, as the Obama administration rules require hospitals and physicians to convert millions of patient files to digital records.

The new mandate applies to health information beginning with a patient's weight, blood pressure, and allergies.

According to Dr. Jeffrey Feit of Page Memorial Hospital, "it'll make sure that any medicines that I prescribe for them don't contradict with current medicines that they're on. Those are all things that I would have had to remember to do when i was doing things on paper, and now, the computer reminds me each time."

To help with the cost, the federal government will allocate $19 billion in stimulus money.

Providers who meet government-imposed deadlines get higher federal reimbursements for up to five years.

Some people worry that smaller hospitals can't afford the penalty and lack upfront money to make the transition.

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So how much will the $19 billion bill cost you?

Here's the basic breakdown:

Patients or providers help bridge the gap.

If you earn $15,000 a year, the digital conversion will cost you less than a dollar.

If you maker up to $50,000 a year, it would cost you over $31 a year.

And if you're bringing in $200,000, it could cost you $237 a year.