Wrong Prescription

Digital medical records aim to cut health-care costs. They could end up doing the opposite

Greg Ruffing / Redux for TIME

The Obama administration thinks it has discovered a magic bullet in the drive to lower health-care costs: electronic medical records (EMR). Getting the medical profession to switch from manual record-keeping to a national computerized system, boosters argue, will save money, reduce errors, improve quality and transform health care as we know it. President Barack Obama has proposed investing $50 billion over the next five years to help make it happen.

If only the cure were that easy. Any doctor will tell you the advantages of having lots of patient data on computers: it helps us avoid redundant...

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