Make us your home page
Instagram

Pressure mounts to digitize doctors' offices

The doctors at Suncoast Medical Clinic make their rounds these days tapping patient records into notebook computers instead of folders stacked high with forms and lab results.

"It's been a difficult transition that's taken four years," said David Bailey, chief executive of the St. Petersburg clinic with 57 doctors that's weeks away from paperless. "We hope to recoup the cost ($2 million) from savings within two to five years."

How? No more schlepping tattered folders all over. No duplicate files. Anyone with authority can see a patient chart anywhere at the same moment — even a doctor on vacation.

Yet in a world where computers intrude into every corner of commerce, only 17 percent of doctors offices have made the switch.

Insurance companies, government and even some big retailers are starting to push harder for doctors to go digital. The two big drugstore trade groups poured $100 million into a secure, national pharmacy network for e-mail prescriptions rather than tolerate more errors and more eyestrain deciphering doctors' chicken scratches. What pharmacies need now is more than the roughly 5 percent of doctors who currently e-mail prescriptions.

Meanwhile, Sam's Club unit at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to sell licensed software packages and Dell hardware for digitizing patient records at small medical and dental practices. Only 10 percent are digital now. Prices start at $25,000, a fraction of the going rate. The Obama Administration put $19 billion in the federal budget for medical records digitalization.

None of this is controversy free. A few doctors resist learning a new way that's pushed by the money people who saddled society with ATMs, co-pays and endless performance data to slice and dice. Some academics question if programs that lead doctors through step-by-step screens of diagnosis improves patient care. Others say the savings from going digital are exaggerated.

• • •

Prime Outlets Ellenton added another designer outlet store to its lineup over the weekend with the opening of Escada, a luxury German women's apparel brand.

• • •

The closings of both Kmarts on 34th Street in St. Petersburg, will leave the city served by a single Kmart at 4501 66th St. N. In 1994, there were five.

• • •

The recession did a number on the fine-jewelry chains, but people still buy diamonds after finding new ways to trade down.

Many discovered savings — up to $1,000 on a $15,000 ring — by ordering a 0.95-carat stone instead of a 1-carat stone.

Others opt for lower-grade diamonds if a stone sparkles enough. That's from Randy Wagner, chief executive of GemEx Systems Inc., which rates diamonds for some major chains.

"Sales of high-end stones we rate are down 20 to 30 percent, but the lesser quality we rate are actually up about 10 percent," he said.

Mark Albright can be reached at albright@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8252.

Pressure mounts to digitize doctors' offices 03/16/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 8:51am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Calling it a 'dangerous precedent,' Tampa chamber opposes city tax increase

    Retail

    TAMPA — Calling the possibility a "dangerous precedent," the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce on Thursday took the rare step of opposing City Hall's proposal to raise Tampa's property tax rate because of its impact on business.

    The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce voted against supporting a city tax hike on commercial property. Pictured is Bob Rohrlack, CEO of the chamber. | [Times file photo]
  2. Did Hurricane Irma speed the end of Florida orange juice?

    Agriculture

    Hurricane Irma plundered Florida's orange belt, leaving a trail of uprooted trees, downed fruit and flooded groves worse than anything growers say they have seen in more than 20 years.

    A large number of oranges lie on the ground at the Story Grove orange grove in the wake of Hurricane Irma on Sept. 13, 2017, in Lake Wales. [Photo by Brian Blanco | Getty Images]
  3. St. Petersburg's newest hotel opens with craft beers, cocktails and Cozy Corners

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — Last spring, Ryan Tarrant applied for a job with the new Hyatt Place nearing completion in downtown St. Petersburg. Among the questions an interviewer asked:

    What does this hotel need to succeed?

    Hybar, a bar area with outdoor seating  that will feature craft drinks and Sunday brunch starting Oct. 1, is ready to open at the new Hyatt Place hotel at  25 2nd St. N in downtown St. Petersburg. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  4. Culver's crosses into Brandon near Selmon Expressway

    Business

    BRANDON — Like many children, Theresa Hutchins recalls pleading with her parents to take her for ice cream.

    Theresa Hutchins and her fianc? Mike Carelli opened the Tampa Bay area’s newest Culver’s August 28 in Brandon at 2470 S Falkenburg Road.
  5. Back to life: Event helps Riverview revert to peaceful pace after Irma

    Human Interest

    RIVERVIEW — Robin and Ray Castell say establishing residency in the Winthrop Village was one of the best decisions of their lifetime.

    hillsbrandon092217: Meredith Tucker of Riverview, the mother of two children and another one soon on the way, browses the racks of Dot Dot Smile children?€™s clothing as company merchandiser Kelcie Schranck, standing behind her in the black shirt, looks on during the first-of-its-kind Recruiting the Community event on Sept. 17 at the Barn at Winthrop in Riverview. Photo by Joyce McKenzie.