Wall Street Journal Profiles Increased Use of Electronic Medical Record Systems
Although about 5% of hospitals nationwide maintain electronic medical record systems, use of such systems is "expected to increase" over the next few years, the Wall Street Journal reports. Teaching hospitals in Colorado and Massachusetts, as well as health systems in California and Pennsylvania, are proceeding with projects to let patients access their medical records and complete various administrative tasks online. Pennsylvania's Geisinger Health System, for example, has allocated about $50 million to its ongoing EMR project, which lets patients access medication lists and lab test results online. Registered users -- about 750 to date -- also can schedule appointments and request prescription refills over the Internet. Around 6,000 patients at Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center are now able to access their medical records online, and a pilot project currently underway at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation supports online access to medical records for about 3,000 patients. In addition, Oakland-based Kaiser Permanente, the nation's largest not-for-profit HMO, has initiated a $2.5 billion information technology project that will feature EMRs, clinical information systems and other technology applications. Some health care providers remain concerned about data security and how much of their time the expanded services will occupy, the Journal reports. Despite the concerns, EMRs "will be considered the standard of care in the future," Dr. Molly Joel Coye, a member of the Institute of Medicine, said (Rundle, Wall Street Journal, 6/25). For more iHealth & Technology stories, visit iHealthBeat.org, a new Web publication sponsored by the California HealthCare Foundation.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.