Electronic Medical Records

WSJ has an article by Laura Landro on EMRs in the US context:

In New York’s Hudson Valley, more than 600,000 patients are blazing a trail with a new regional medical-information network that lets area hospitals, doctors, labs and pharmacies share medical records securely over the Internet.

The Taconic Health Information Network and Community project is one of the most ambitious efforts yet in a growing movement to establish large regional health-information networks around the country. While it may be a decade or more before Americans have a national system of electronic medical records — as promised this year by the Bush administration — more than 100 state and local groups are moving quickly to establish their own networks, securing seed money from federal agencies and nonprofit groups, and lining up local employers and health plans to offer financial incentives, including bonuses for doctors to participate.

The regional networks aim to get local providers to convert patients’ paper medical files to electronic records, and persuade doctors to exchange pertinent information with a patient’s other health-care providers. By using a single network, regional health groups say they can reduce medical mistakes, better track patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, zip prescriptions electronically to pharmacies, and cut costs by eliminating duplicated lab tests and X-rays.

“The simple vision is that we want to see every American covered by one or more regional health-information organizations,” says David Brailer, who was appointed as the nation’s first health-information-technology coordinator this year. Regional networks are better suited to meet the needs of specific geographic populations, he says, and eventually, the regional networks can all be interconnected to form a national network that will enable officials to track health trends, report disease outbreaks and better identify public-health issues.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.