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Mass. Moves Forward With Statewide Health Information Exchange

A new information exchange will allow hospitals, doctors, long-term facilities and other medical personnel to exchange clinical data via a secure statewide network. The White House approved $16.9 million for the project.

Massachusetts contracted with Orion Health to develop the statewide network. The project is designed to improve communication between these institutions and reduce redundancies.

Andrew Dasenbrock told NPR’s Morning Edition that he was overcharged for medical care:

“I lay the two bills next to each other and it was literally word for word, letter for letter, line item by line item the exact same charges on the two separate invoices for all the tests that I had gone through.”

And an animated video by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, part of the federal Department of Health & Human Services, explains that this system will change health care for the better.

Suppose you have a new doctor that needs the results of a past check-up. Or your father forgets which medicine he’s supposed to take. Or your child’s away at camp and needs to go to the ER. Having online access to you and your family’s medical history can save more than time; it can save lives.

Does your doctor or clinic use an electronic health record? Would you be OK with your health data being sent from your doctor’s office to the hospital or to the lab?


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  • Leswp

    I work as a medical provider.  EMRs are cumbersome and laden with ways to ‘loose information’ because the information does not fit into a specific box.  It also is tripling and quadrupling the time spent documenting and has been shown to significantly decrease productivity.  The patient is an audiovisual aide rather than the focus which is not the goal. 

    Until there are ways to document that are streamlined this approach frightens me.  There is less info entered because it takes too much time to do a good job.  It is also sig more difficult to document clearly.  If documents are transparent how do they plan on dealing with the information that might not be “politically correct” or pleasing to the patient but is important in providing safe appropriate care

    • Leswp

      Also documentation in my area is lagging behind sometimes by a month or more after discharge/ time of consult (I am in primary care) becuase EMR is so cumbersome.  what is plan to address this?

      • Jdentente

        Learn how to dictate into your EMR, any good product out there should be able to interface with DRAGON or similiar products.

        • Leswp

          I would love to be able to do that.  It is not an option in my office.

  • localdoc

    If there is market incentive to share records as Dr. Halamka suggest, then why not let the market fix the problem. Why is the state selecting the winning software and network structure? Or does JH think he’s inventing another internet (given his performance in the BIDMC system – where hospital lab systems in the network can’t talk to each other – I’d put my trust elsewhere).

    In addition, the legislature needs to monitor the use of this data carefully. Often, insurance companies characterize repeat scans or lab tests as redundant when they are felt to be necessary by a consulting physicians – eg. not all CT/MRI scans are equivalent (contrast, pulse sequences), lab values can vary from lab to lab.

    • Leswp

      There is one reason to pick a single EMR- the ‘market’ has produced multiple options, most of which do not communicate with each other.  France has a great system where a swipe of a medical card enters into the whole data base allowing for great continuity.  Unfortunately here the systems are little islands.

      I agree with the comment regarding insurance companies.  It is important to remember the insurance companies are not motivated by what is best for the patient.  That is not their job, despite those lively ads implying otherwise. They are focused on the bottom line.   Those of us in practice are reminded of this daily.

  • comment

    Consumer BEWARE. Market forces are in control of your private health records, and those records of your family members, elected officials, friends and enemies. The ACA has been hijacked by those who are driven by money, political power, and self promotion.

    Hollywood stars presently use false names in their PAPER, medical documentation.  Why?

    Electronic records will allow those daily missteps by medical professionals and their minimum wage, support staff to live on forever.

    Wendy Mariner in response to questions on protection and privacy dismissively said any computer system will have “glitches”. OK who of you wants your medical records to be on the front page of some tabloid?

    Those in the health community who are working on the development of this highly desirable tool are completely underestimating the impact on patient privacy and patient safety. IVORY TOWER SYNDROME!

    We in the Boston area who are part of the “either opt in, or don’t come to my hospital or medical practice” (otherwise as emphatically and pseudo-consumer activism called “Opt In Consent”) are presently part of a BIG electronic EXPERIMENT. We have no rights under HIPAA. No ability to see or easily access our records in their current format.

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