Electronic Medical Records Are A Must in the 21st Century

The healthcare system across the country faces challenges on multiple fronts, including rising costs and questionable quality of care. With the upcoming deadlines for meeting Meaningful Use criteria and federal Accountable Care Organizations information technology in healthcare, especially electronic medical records (EMR) has the potential to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of health care providers. An EMR is a computerized patient medical record that a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital maintains for each person. The point is to replace the mountains of paper records and amount of storage space needed compared to the digital version of those same records.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released its Federal Information Technology Strategic Plan for 2011 through 2015. This plan affirms the need for information sharing between healthcare systems. Recently at the 2012 Annual Health Information Management Systems Society Conference (HIMSS), five leading health systems, Mayo Clinic, Geisinger, Kaiser Permanente, Intermountain Healthcare and Group Health demonstrated their advancement in data sharing. These healthcare systems share the belief that EMRs are the most important tools available in world health care today.

These five have formed the Care Connectivity Consortium to achieve and demonstrate the effective and timely health information exchange using the latest IT standards in a secure environment. “This collaborative effort exists because we all have reached the same important conclusion about linking and sharing patient-specific data,” said George Halvorson, Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente. “Our five organizations share the common mission of improving health care in the United States and our belief is that when doctors have real-time data about patients, care is better and more effective.”

EMRs immediately share information between doctors and can be used for public health records and other statistical reporting anonymously. Electronic records standardize terminology, abbreviations and eliminate errors with the need to decipher poor penmanship on paper medical records. Doctors are able to ensure proper medical care is given when critical documents are exchanged without delay and necessary follow up measures are taken because patient information are readily available. The goal is to improve the coordination of patient care in a manner consistent with national health IT standards. Charles Sorenson, MD, President and CEO at Intermountain Healthcare said, “Together, we are advancing how health IT can be used to improve care while lowering overall healthcare costs to the communities we serve.”

Using the latest technology to share data about patients electronically in a secure environment and still deliver affordable high-value healthcare should be on the top of the agenda for the entire healthcare community. Providing the right kind of medical treatment at the right time to avoid unintended consequences will improve healthcare for all Americans.


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