Hospitals and doctors have been slow to join the digital revolution that's ushered in change in other sectors.
Yet a few observers think that resistance won't last for much longer. In an interview with CNBC's "On The Money," Athenahealth CEO and co-founder Jonathan Bush predicts we'll have a "health-care Internet" within five years. He said "the lion's share of routine health care will be…managed online. I'm sure of it."
Evidence suggests the shift may already be underway. While just 15 percent of hospitals used electronic health records in 2010, that number skyrocketed to 59 percent in 2013, according to data from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. Office-based physicians' use of electronic records has jumped from 24 percent to 48 percent over the same period, those figures showed.
For its part, Massachusetts-based Athenahealth provides cloud-based record keeping and medical billing for 65,000 doctors and 62 million patients.
So why has the medical sector has been so slow to make the move to digital records? Bush pointed to outdated technology still in use in many doctors' offices, some of which still store data on CD-ROM discs. "Our companies don't even give us computers with CD-ROM slots anymore," he said.
"You have these isolated hospitals and doctors' offices each with their own data center." Bush said, with "each using off-the-shelf software that we stopped using in the rest of society."