Free Computers Not Enough To Get Doctors Using Technology

The health plan Wellpoint earlier this year provided $42 million worth of free PDAs or PCs to help entice doctors to adopt E-prescriptions or reduce paperwork by submitting claims electronically. Although WellPoint contracts with 25,000 doctors, only 19,000 physicians participated–one in four passed on the free gear. A big part of the problem is keeping the technology running, rather than the initial investment. Less than 25% of doctor offices “have any IT support at all,” says Schaeffer. —Marianne Kolbasuk McGee

Free Computers Not Enough To Get Doctors Using Technology (Information Week)

You bad, nasty, backwards physicians… it’s all your fault! Thank God for HMOs like Wellpoint, who give a darn about quality healthcare!

This article reads like part of a public relations strategy designed to get patients to blame doctors for the high cost of health care, and to think of the HMO Wellpoint as the savior. Nowhere does this article cite anyone who raises the slightest criticism of the idea that society will be better served by giving $42 million dollars worth of free PDAs and PCs to doctors.

Consider this: “Overall, Schaeffer says less than 15,000 doctors in the U.S. are using E-prescription systems in their practices.”

  1. Any journalist would know that the AP Stylebook calls for “fewer” instead of “less” in this case. (Of course, good English grammar would call for the same, but that’s beside the point.)

  2. McGee also uses the contractions “there’s”, “isn’t”, and “would’ve”, and quotes a source as saying “could’ve”. While simple contractions (like “aren’t”) aren’t necessarily bad journalism, this many — especially “would’ve” and “could’ve” — seem excessive.

  3. This quote plants a concept — “there is such a thing as an E-prescription service!” Elsewhere, the article suggests that

  4. The quote puts a statistic into the mouth of an executive, in a context where the executive isn’t asked to cite his source.

  5. McGee writes that “the cure for doctors’ reluctance to buy such technologies has been particularly elusive,” which is fine, but she goes on to give the opinion that this cure “is vital to any change.” It’s not vital to any change, it’s just vital to getting doctors to buy technology. If a company executive spoke that way, I wouldn’t mind, but a journalist should be more careful.