Newsweek writes about the growing use of electronic medical records in the US:

In July, the government launched a bold plan to get doctors and patients wired over the next 10 years. To encourage participation, officials are looking for ways to reduce costs and ensure software compatibility nationwide. The goal: a vast electronic network, where records can be securely viewed by any doctor or ER you visit. There’s more at stake than convenience. Electronic medical records could save $140 billion annually and slash medical errors, which contribute to tens of thousands of deaths a year. “It’s the right thing to do, it’s the right time,” says Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. “We have to transform the practice of medicine.”

Paperless medicine means you’ll be able to go from your GP to your cardiologistor to a new doc-tor in another statewithout having to cart around old records. Your physician, privy to your complete history, will no longer need to rely on you for medical details; you may just walk away with a more accurate diagnosis. Computers will send reminders about vaccines or alerts about dangerous drug interactions. Electronic prescriptions will reduce errors caused by bad handwriting. And for non-urgent matters, you and your doctor will be able to communicate through a secure messaging system, saving time and a lot of frustration.

As affordable computing solutions become available, India too needs to consider the use of EMRs. One benefit would be that the meta-data aggregated can go a long way in helping take pro-active action.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.