New Coalition Announces Online Medical Records Pilot Project
To eliminate medical errors, a coalition of technology firms and consumer and doctors groups announced yesterday that it will fund a pilot program to electronically link medical records, the AP/Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports. The not-for-profit Patient Safety Institute -- funded by Hewlett-Packard and seven other information technology companies and managed by the National Consumers League, the Medical Group Management Association and other patient advocacy groups -- said that it will grant $8 million to a city to test the project. Dr. Jack Lewin, head of the California Medical Association and chair of the new organization, said that doctors' offices, hospitals and pharmacies can be linked with the same technology used for online banking. Such technology links different computer systems in real time while maintaining "confidential[ity]." Lisa Price of the fiber-optic company Williams Communications, which is funding the project, said, "If FedEx can track packages across the country ... surely we can keep track of medications and the particulars necessary for our health." The group will select a major U.S. city in the next few weeks and begin enrolling participants.
Previous efforts to reduce medical errors through technology "have failed," the AP/Gazette reports. Doctors, hospitals and technology companies have been unable to agree on standards that are compatible for all the computer systems involved, according to Dr. Gregg Meyer of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The AP/Gazette reports that "it's not clear" whether this new effort will succeed. Some of the health care industry's "biggest" information technology companies "were absent from yesterday's collaboration" and the group has not "won the endorsement" of the American Medical Association (AP/Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 12/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.