EMR resistance is more about guarding profits, author says

The reason for the slow pace of adoption of EMRs has less to do with money, technology and technophobic doctors than it does with the healthcare industry's desire to protect its profits by clinging to a culture of inefficiency, argues financial and technology guru Andy Kessler.

"Dangling $19 billion in front of a $2.4 trillion industry is not nearly enough to get it to reveal the financial secrets that electronic health records are likely to uncover--and upon which its huge profits depend. In those medical records lie the ugly truth about the business of medicine: sickness is profitable," Kessler writes in Technology Review, an MIT publication.

Kessler, author of The End of Medicine, a 2006 book about the computerization of healthcare, says that an even greater threat to the "sickness industry" is early detection and prevention, something EMRs help facilitate. Given all the forces aligned to protect the status quo, Kessler, believes that change will begin at the grass roots, perhaps at places like Walgreens.

We mostly buy his argument about entrenched interests not wanting to slaughter their cash cows, but aren't the big pharmacy chains part of the same culture? They make billions off of filling prescriptions and share in some of the fee-for-service lucre with their growing line of walk-in clinics.

To read Kessler's theory:
- go to his Technology Review commentary