Electronic records and accurate information do save lives; however, in the chase to provide the one central location cure all to locate medical records, we somehow left out some of the "baby steps" needed to get there. Having a practice or hospital using electronic records today is definitely a plus, but I agree on the span it's going to take to provide interoperability for all, and not to mention there are a lot of choices out there. One thing for sure that has come out of all of this is better health care and more patient involvement in taking a more active role in their own health care. It may be a while before we see a "one for all plan" but the "baby steps" taken in the meantime are definitely a plus anyway you look at it. There are a lot of folks in the healthcare industry making this change to a new way of operation and they need training and a little time to digest changes as they occur. The insurance industry has also provided a few stumbling blocks with consumer trust along the way too. You still have to know as a patient that "privacy" can and will still exist today with medical care. Health care is a personal issue and it seems in some areas that has been forgotten. We have the data today, but now the challenge is there to professionally manage the information in a way that will provide better health care for all. BD
Hospital records aren't what they used to be at Tri-City Medical Center.
Emergency room doctors record orders for lab tests, medications and treatments on wireless tablet computers. Nurses on the in-patient floors enter vital signs into rolling laptop computers.
And digital X-ray images are available on computer screens throughout the Oceanside, Calif., hospital moments after they are taken.
This kind of technology was a novelty just a few years ago, but now most hospitals across the country use some sort of electronic medical records system - a technological leap proven to reduce medical errors and one that many think is key to slowing runaway health care costs.
Several RAND Corp. researchers predicted that electronic health records could save hospitals and doctors $513 billion over the next 15 years, savings that could be passed along to insurers and patients, according to a 2005 article in the journal Health Affairs.
A trip to Tri-City suggests that the digital age has finally arrived in health care, but looks can be deceiving. Despite undeniable advances, most hospitals and doctors remain years away from full-scale electronic records and for those that do use electronic records, there is little, if any, way to share information.