Will the EMR movement become a political divide

Countries that are much further along in adopting EMR technology are now seeing pushback, mainly over the issue of centralized storage.

EMR database image from Google Images via HealthlineFor most of the year the move toward Electronic Medical Records has been one of the few medical reform ideas with broad bipartisan support.

(Google Images is credited with this picture on a HealthLine story about EMR vendor Practice Fusion.)

John McCain likes it. Barack Obama loves it. It is said to be a top voter priority.

But when I broach the subject at ZDNet opposition is easy to find. Some worry about mistakes. Others are concerned over costs. Still others see a government power grab.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of California recently gave $1.5 million to study EMRs, and another $1 million to study a chief aim of EMRs, the elimination of mistakes in hospitals.

But the head of that group is also scheduled to speak at next week's Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Is the issue about to become politicized?

Craig Stoltz of HealthCentral thinks Obama's embrace of EMRs may be much tighter than McCain's. Countries that are much further along in adopting the technology are now seeing pushback, mainly over the issue of centralized storage.

The need for security, privacy, and control over the dissemination of records under HIPAA has slowed their adoption here. Countries without HIPAA are much further along.

Opposition expressed here to the plans of Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault to enable the storing of records, under the control of patients, is along the same lines.

Some readers don't buy the argument that patients, and not the sites, will have full control of the resulting records. There is rampant distrust of both big business and big government.

The question is, could this turn into a prairie fire? Are proponents of EMRs underestimating the opposition, as the Clinton Administration did a generation ago?

Can this technology trend be reversed?[poll id=23]

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