How Electronic Records Help Health Reform
Integration of electronic record keeping can help reduce overall health care expenses by limiting administrative costs, ensuring that duplicate procedures are avoided and checking for allergies and other medical sensitivities across a database. Optimally, the system aims to help medical professionals make better decisions based upon lab results, X-Rays, medical history records and a variety of hospital archives. While there is an up-front cost to integrating the systems, most modern hospitals are actively working to streamline their record keeping and open access to fellow medical facilities.
Currently, less than 25% of practicing doctors utilize electronic records for their patients, while emergency room rates are slightly higher. Under terms of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Congress allocated funds for doctors who integrate certified electronic record keeping systems . As standards become solidified, a growing number of medical practices are shifting to electronic records.
Privacy and Security in Reform
Many patients’ rights advocates have expressed concern over a central health records database, but medical companies are actively working to comply with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) so that records are securely stored and can only be accessed by practicing doctors. Incorporating privacy into insurance records is a core part of the process, and recent health reform efforts have helped streamline secure patient record standards.
Relying upon electronic documentation, it is much easier for doctors to show exactly why they performed a specific procedure. With this evidence, medical professionals are able to show that adverse medical outcomes were not caused by error, potentially limiting their tort liabilities. Although the legal aspects of health reform remain under debate, many medical professionals are working to limit medical transcription and record keeping errors to provide safer, more reliable medical care. A combination of improved record keeping, medical delivery and quality care can result in improvements in overall health outcomes.