Thursday, February 01, 2007

Hope, challenges in computerizing medical records - The Boston Globe

Hope, challenges in computerizing medical records - The Boston Globe: "The health care industry and state and federal governments have pinned great hopes on electronic medical records, which proponents say will help reduce medical errors and costs. Patients typically are treated by multiple physicians, clinics and hospitals, and a computerized records network allows doctors to find information quickly in an emergency, alerting them, for example, if a patient has a dangerous allergy to a medication, or if they are about to order an expensive test a patient has already had.

'What you're seeing in North Adams is revolutionary,' said Dr. John Halamka, chief information officer for Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

But North Adams' experience shows just how challenging it will be to switch to computerized records on a large scale, and link them into a network that allows so many people access. Every family must be asked to sign consent forms allowing their health information to be entered into the system. During the first month of learning to use computerized records, some doctors in the city lost business because they worked more slowly, seeing between 20 and 50 percent fewer patients. Doctors and office staff are struggling to find time to type and scan information from thousands of pages of paper medical record."

It maybe a steep learning curve, but it's well worth the effort !

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