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Electronic Health Records' ‘Make-or-Break Year’

The government has doled out billions to spur the switch to digital medical records. Now hospitals must prove they’re using the technology

Lelia Straw uses her home computer to help manage her type 2 diabetes. To track her blood work and stay in touch with her doctors, she logs on to HealthConnect, an online system operated by Kaiser Permanente, the Oakland (Calif.)-based health plan that covers 9.1 million Americans. “When you have the tools, you have sort of an internal motivation to use them and to pay attention to what’s going on,” Straw says. For years, the 63-year-old carried a paper record of her medical history, but she has come to realize that all her doctors now have access to even her most recent test results.