The Digital Age Turns to Medical Records

Doctors Given 5-Year Deadline to Make All Records Electronic

As part of the 2009 federal stimulus bill, funding was set aside to incentivize hospitals and doctors to buy expensive computerized record systems. By making all medical records digital, the goal is two-fold: to increase patient safety by reducing possible hospital mistakes and to lower health care costs.

The Obama Administration has said that providers have five years to convert to electronic records. Incompliant doctors’ offices and hospitals face cuts in Medicare payments in 2015.

What Do Digital Medical Records Mean for You?

With many electronic medical record keeping systems, patients will soon be able to access their personal health information online. It will allow you to keep records up-to-date, so that, in the event of a medical emergency, the most current information is on file.

It also allows you to have a current copy of your records without having to call every doctor or clinic you’ve visited over the last 20 years. When asked the date of your last tetanus shot, you’ll no longer have to guess or dig through stacks of paper to find your immunization records.

When you are referred to another doctor or specialist they will be able to receive an electronic copy of your records within minutes.

Medicare and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs have already completed the digitizing of their records. Now over 1 million veterans and an estimated 47 million Medicare beneficiaries can download parts of their medical records or claims information – all from the comfort of their home computers.

As with any type of computerized records, privacy concerns remain. A group of experts convened by the Markle Foundation, an organization concerned with technology, health care and national security, has established a list of privacy and security practices for electronic medical records. Individuals need to be educated in order to make informed decisions and use secure connections when downloading their private information. Administrators and record keepers need to establish authentication procedures when working with and maintaining the records.

Despite privacy concerns, health care providers and patients alike recognize how going digital will allow for better patient safety by helping decrease medical errors.

Sources: Digital medical records get 5-year deadline; Digital medical records: What you need to know


Medical Error + Medical Malpractice

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