South Florida Hospital News
Monday August 19, 2019
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February 2008 - Volume 4 - Issue 8

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Healthcare Providers Move to Electronic Medical Records Benefits Physicians, Patients

Imagine going to see your physician and having no forms to fill out. Instead of leafing through a large paper file, your doctor pulls all of your medical records up on the computer, where he is able to review up-to-date, real-time information. During your visit, the doctor inputs your new health information directly into those records, and creates an easy-to-read, electronic prescription.

While this may seem like some futuristic fantasy, the fact is, some doctors are already using Electronic Medical Record (EMR) technology to treat their patients in a more efficient manner. And experts believe that in the next few years, this technology will become commonplace.

"Though itís fairly new, Electronic Medical Records are gaining momentum quickly," explained Michael Kesti, president and CEO, Health Ventures, Inc. and co-chair of the Education and Outreach Committee of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. "As weíre entering the age of consumer-driven health care, this side of the business is ramping up significantly."

In the past, healthcare providers were reluctant to accept this technology because of the cost involved and the inconvenience of converting paper records to computer. "A hospital, for example, used to have to buy a number of expensive scanners and use their medical records staff to scan all of the material, which could take months," Kesti explained. "Scanners and computers are now much quickeróit has sped up the process significantly.

"There are also companies out there that will come to the office or hospital, wheel in a scanning and production system and do it all for you," he added. "This saves both time and money; a one-person medical office might spend a couple thousand dollars at most."

According to Kesti, some physicians were also wary of allowing patients to have access to their own medical records in the past. "If a person had their own records, they might take them to another doctor, or they might question what their physician has done and become litigious," said Kesti. "It also created HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) concerns.

"A lot of education needs to take place before people become comfortable with this move towards EMRs," he added. "Patients need to understand their rights and their limits, which include only being allowed to have copies of their records. The original medical records are the property of the provider who is obligated to keep them."

As technology has evolved, so has the ability of physicians and patients to create, compile and safely access information. While previous EMR systems were client-service based, meaning that the records on one doctorís system might not be able to be read by another doctor or hospital, options today include web-based systems that can be read anywhere with an Internet connection. "A web-based system allows interoperability," explained Andrew Carricarte, president, IOS Inc. "More than one doctorís office can access a patientís records which allows them to exchange information that is updated in real-time."

"Patients can register on a web-based system and download their files to that system so that any doctor, any time, can access the patientís information when given a pass code," explained Kesti. "This whole process gained momentum after Hurricane Katrina, when so many people were displaced and their medical records were wiped out. People didnít know when their last tetanus shot was, or when they were last immunized. The cost of retesting these people was unimaginable."

According to Carricarte, there are advantages for physicians as well. "It provides a better quality of life for physicians because they can access a patientís records from home or wherever there is Internet access," he said. "It also increases the efficiency of their workplace, because they are no longer making copies, faxing or sending records manually, and records no longer get misfiled or misplaced."

EMRs also enable physicians to measure outcomes by having all of their data in one place. "If doctors can see outcomes, they can improve patient care, improve revenue streams and better run their practices," Carricarte said.

There are a number of different types of web-based EMR providers available to both doctors and patients. New World Health Corp. offers ehealthxchange.com and WebMD also offers some services. ehealthxchange.com allows consumers to go online, choose a doctor, schedule an appointment and provide medical information to the doctor through the Web before the patientís visit. The cost is less than $10 per year for the consumer, and physician membership is nominal.

IOS Inc., on the other hand, works with physicians in their own offices to scan both active and historical charts and link different services, including front desk, appointment setting, transcription services and records retrieval all into one user-friendly EMR system. "The key for the EMR to improve healthcare will depend on its ability to combine and apply useful services with practical technology," said Carricarte. "Itís not just about latest software anymore. Itís about providing a total solution to help physicians and their offices make the transition."

For more information on Health Ventures, call (305) 323-2903. For more information on IOS, visit www.iossolution.com or call 1-877-467-1467.
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