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Clinic office assistant Joan Vest searches for a patient's mssplaced medical file at the Spanish Peaks Family Clinic on August 5, 2009 in Walsenburg, Colorado. The Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center, which treats rural residents from throughout southern Colorado, plans to move to an electronic health records system before the end of 2010. Administrators say they expect the costs of upgrading the system will eventually be recovered through federal funds, as part of the overhaul of the nation's healthcare system.
One of the basic building blocks of the Obama administration's health care reform plan involves converting old fashioned paper patient records to electronic form.
Medicare officials plan to spend $7 billion dollars over the next 5 years to encourage doctors and hospitals to make this change. Advocates say that electronic records will improve patient care, streamline medical services, and lower costs.
But a new report by the Office of the Inspector General warns that the rush to implement these changes is creating an opening to fraud and abuse. Joining us is Scot Silverstein, adjunct professor at Drexel University, and consultant in health care information technology.