The recent Commonwealth Fund study on the U.S. healthcare system did not reveal much that we didn't already know ("The grade is: 66 out of 100," Sept. 25, p. 6). However, it did a good job in framing the debate by using a clever "scorecard" system to point out the system's many inadequacies.
One deficiency noted in the report was the low adoption rate of information technology by physicians. It said that fewer than 20% regularly use an electronic medical record or have access to clinical outcomes data.
Why the low adoption rate? To borrow the study's benchmark approach, we need to recognize that earlier generations of medical IT scored poorly. Physicians seeking help with diagnoses or clinical outcomes had to interrupt their workflow to enter long strings of data and then wait five to 10 minutes for a response.
Today's clinical information systems are vastly improved, but many physicians remain skeptical.
"Once burned, twice shy," the saying goes.
Those of us offering clinical information systems need to do a better job of demonstrating their practical value, in both clinical and financial terms. Then we will begin to see the adoption gap close.
Joseph BrittoChief executive officerCo-founderIsabel HealthcareHerndon, Va.