Technology: Another reason to go digital

March 7, 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 a certified EHR system. Two strings are attached, though: The system needs to have been up and running for at least a year, and 75 percent or more of the doctors in a practice must use it.

MHA, which insures 3,000 doctors in eight states, views EHRs as being capable of improving patient safety and thereby 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. 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 may suggest the patient was examined more closely than he actually was.

MHA, which insures 3,000 doctors in eight states, views EHRs as being capable of improving patient safety and thereby 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. 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 may suggest the patient was examined more closely than he actually was.