Currently the Air Force is working on switching to electronic medical records. The savings and advantages of electronic medical records are many and well known and I applaud the effort. But, unfortunately, the Air Force has decided to phase out the physical medical records by attrition rather than digitizing the physical records and making a full transition to electronic. This approach may avoid the initial investment necessary to digitize the records, but it is more costly and wasteful over the long haul. Keeping the physical records along with the new electronic records means the USAF will have to pay the costs of two record systems, including extra training for records personnel, for up to 20 years (or more since most of the Air Force Reserves and Air National Guard are still creating new physical records) and it won’t realize the full potential and savings of the electronic system for a generation or more.
I propose the DoD adopt a full transition approach to electronic medical records and implement a plan to digitize all physical medical records rather than wait for them to be retired.