“I think we’re going to look back on this time and wonder how we ever did it without electronic medical records,” Leonard said.
“We’re way behind other industries, like business with ATMs, where I can use a card all across the country and transact business. The theory is the same.”
The federal government considered the switch to electronic health records to be so important that it tied financial incentives in the stimulus to Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement for hospitals and doctors.
“I think every provider except for some small physician (practices) are working on participating in electronic medical records,” said Bernice Ulrich, vice president of data services for the Indiana Hospital Association.
Many young physicians entering the field already depend on electronic medical devices, Ulrich added.
Dr. Steven Kinsey, an internist with Columbus Adult Medicine, said there is no comparing paper files to electronic files. “You can never get me to go back,” he said.
Columbus Adult Medicine and some other physician practices here began using a system called MedInformatix about five years ago.
One benefit, Kinsey said, is accessibility. Even while traveling outside the country, he has been able to access patient information and answer questions from the office because he had his laptop or iPad and Internet access.
Alerts also pop up for certain patients, such as those with diabetes, to remind doctors about needed tests, Kinsey said.
Dr. David Rau, of Rau Family Medicine in Columbus, said the initial cost, implementation and training can be a challenge, but the benefits are worth it.
“It has great power in communication and aggregating data for study,” said Rau, whose practice also uses MedInformatix.
In a room inside the CRH Tech Center, people sitting in front of computers test the electronic records software. Each of the 15 to 20 computers represents a different department – registration, surgery or the laboratory, for example. Participants train by ushering simulated patients through a hospital stay. A patient might first arrive in the emergency department, or in the maternity ward.<< previous 1 2 3 next >>