Another reason to go digital-cheaper malpractice coverage

February 8, 2008

It’s not yet the norm, but one more malpractice carrier is lowering premiums for doctors who use EHRs.

It’s not yet the norm, but one more malpractice carrier is lowering premiums for doctors who use EHRs.

MHA Insurance in Lansing, MI, will discount premiums by 5 percent the first year and 2.5 percent afterwards for practices that have an EHR certified by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology. Two more strings are attached-the system needs to have been up and running for at least one year, and at least 75 percent of the doctors in a practice must use it.

MHA, which insurers 3,000 doctors in eight states, views EHRs as improving patient safety and therefore reducing physician liability. By all accounts, though, most carriers aren’t sufficiently convinced that EHRs translate into fewer malpractice suits and fewer plaintiff victories and therefore justify a discount (see “Will an EHR affect your malpractice risk?” in the July 6, 2007, issue of Medical Economics). For one thing, doctors sometimes ignore or disable patient-safety functions such as automatic alerts about drug interactions and drug allergies.

There’s also the fear that the technology can increase a doctor’s liability. EHRs, for example, make it easy to create a lengthy chart note that suggests the patient was examined more closely than he actually was.

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