Update

March 7, 2008

Practice and financial news you can use

NET WORTH

How much the rich consider "rich"

TECHNOLOGY

Another reason to go digital

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.

REAL ESTATE

Can't sell your home? Swap it!

For ages, people have traded all manner of things: baseball cards, stocks and bonds, even spouses. Now add homes to the list.

In a slumping housing market, some people who've been unable to sell their home have made the bold move of trading it for someone else's. And, thanks to the Internet, this form of bartering is apparently becoming more popular and easier to pull off, according to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal. Websites have sprung up to facilitate these transactions, which usually save both parties the cost of brokers' commissions. To learn more, check out sites like http://www.onlinehousetrading.com, http://www.GoSwap.org, and http://www.DomuSwap.com.