Healthcare Reform 04: EMR

Electronic medical records are becoming increasingly possible.  And it makes sense.  So much medical history and documentation is scattered about the country on paper getting lost and damaged n decades old filefolders in non-descript medical facilities.  Significant cost reductions and the potentila for better, faster, and cheper healthcare are possible by replacing much of that paper with standardized, electronic documentation.

This article from the Seattle PI is brief discussion about this field.  The VA is the medical organization making the most progress on this front.

The electronic medical records system at the Department of Veterans Affairs' Kansas City Medical Center gives Sanders and his staff almost immediate access to medical histories, allowing them to seamlessly treat veterans from other states. But when patients aren't in the VA's system, it could mean hours or days before doctors have crucial information to properly care for patients.

"It's increasingly frustrating for us and other providers that it's difficult to find a workable interface," said Sanders, chief of staff for the Kansas City veterans hospital. "Our systems don't talk to each other."

Interoperability, or allowing providers to share records and view them from anywhere, is a requirement for facilities to receive some of the more than $17 billion in stimulus funding that the government is offering to encourage the adoption of electronic medical records. Congress will likely penalize providers who aren't doing so by 2014, cutting their Medicaid and Medicare payments, the Obama administration said.


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