That room in the hospital or physician's office with shelf after shelf of paper patient records could soon be history. The world is rapidly going digital, and so is healthcare–although in healthcare, the pace hasn't been quite so rapid. While many healthcare organizations are far ahead of the curve, having made large investments in health information technology for decades now—including electronic health records, diagnostic image archiving systems and financial systems—at many hospitals, health systems and doctors organizations, the ramp-up has been more recent. And most have a long way to go. But help is available for providers to make an investment in EHRs, thanks to some $27 billion in subsidies available from the federal government available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, commonly known as the stimulus law. And in 2004, President George W. Bush wanted electronic health records to be something all patients—indeed, all Americans—can take advantage of. He set a national goal of ensuring that all Americans have a personal health record by 2014.
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