In The News: Working to improve Electronic Health Records in U.S. hospitals

NEWSWIRE:  Aug 17, 2016

DATELINE:  United States of America

In an ideal world, electronic health records would be a treasure trove of your medical data, accessible with a click by all of your doctors.  All EHR systems would “talk” to each other, so patient records could be accessed quickly to identify which treatments are most effective for certain conditions.

94 Percent of U.S. hospitals have at least rudimentary EHRs, up from just 9 percent in 2008.  But they usually don’t communicate with each other – at least not yet.  There are encouraging signs of change, however. EHR tech companies are working with the medical community to do a better job of connecting EHR systems.  

“It’s mind-bogglingly complicated,” says Margo Edmunds, Vice President for evidence generation and translation at AcademyHealth. “The IT industry doesn’t know much about health care and vice versa.”

Dramatic improvements are happening every year, though. Within systems, many patients log into portals where they “can look at X-rays, refill prescriptions, make appointments and email the doctor,” says Robert Wachter, author of “The Digital Doctor.”

Examples of successes are everywhere. Patients can track blood test results, cholesterol and blood sugar levels at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York.  Orthopedic patients at the University of Rochester Medical Center get iPads at check-in.  They answer questions about their pain, activity levels, sleep and mood.  The data is transferred to their EHR, and is compared to their previous score.

Wachter foresees that doctors will be able to verbally record information and that the data will suggest tests, diagnoses and treatments.  

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