W. urges digital medical records
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    W. urges digital medical records

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    Bush backs computerized medical records

    Friday, January 28, 2005 Posted: 1:53 AM EST (0653 GMT)

    CLEVELAND, Ohio (AP) -- President Bush said Thursday that the medical industry is behind the times, using paper and pen for many records and prescriptions when computerized records could reduce cost and errors.

    "Most industries in America have used information technology to make their businesses more cost effective, more efficient and more productive. And the truth of the matter is, health care hasn't," Bush said during a forum at the Cleveland Clinic. "We've got fantastic new pharmaceuticals that help save lives, but we've got docs still writing records by hand."

    The White House announced that it will propose that the federal government spend $125 million in next year's budget to test computerization of health records. The government is spending $50 million on this in the current budget year, and Bush is also asking Congress to double that amount for 2005.

    The Cleveland Clinic has been helping the government develop standards for computerization and Bush heard from doctors who joined him on stage to praise the technology. The hospital uses the Internet to give patients second opinions online for cancer, heart disease and other conditions and also provides health information aimed at eliminating the time and expense of hospital visits.

    Doctors also use computers to order tests and drugs, which has been shown in studies to reduce medical errors and catch patient drug allergies. Nurses use computers to track patients as they go through the hospital.

    "Very impressive," Bush said as a doctor showed him a chest x-ray and other patient information on three computer screens.

    But for every hospital making advancements like the Cleveland Clinic, there are many that still use the old-fashioned paper methods.

    Bush campaigned on the issue last year. He said his goal is for a majority of Americans to have computerized records in 10 years.

    Bush appointed Dr. David Brailer to help coordinate the move. Brailer said if Americans' lives can improve by using eBay, there are great benefits to a sort of "medical Internet" where they can retrieve their personal health care information.

    Brailer said an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 people die every year from medical errors and contended that centralized data could help doctors and patients keep better track of treatment. He said while many medical records are computerized, such as lab results, drug data and even accounts of office visits in text files, they are not organized or standardized in a format that can be shared.

    Brailer acknowledged great challenges to implementing a system available nationwide. All medical workers will need to have compatible technology, and converting records to such a system can be a costly hassle. Privacy and security must be ensured so that only those with patient consent have access to the records, he said.

    Bush said he is sensitive to privacy concerns. "I presume I'm like most Americans. I think my medical records to be private. I don't want people looking at them, I don't want people, you know, opening them up unless I say it's fine for you to do so," he said.

    Brailer said the government needs to develop incentives to get doctors online. The government has already awarded grants to encourage the transition.

    "I think health care is without a doubt the last industry to go through a broad information revolution," he said. "It's a big revolutionary change to doctors."
    Interesting thing is the privacy and security buzzwords aren't invoked until the end of the article. HIPAA is never mentioned, but these are MAJOR expenses for medical practices and clinc's. Roll that into the logistics of converting to a digital recording solution, and you have a major expense. It's no wonder many doctors are not yet in the 21st century.
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    And all of us know that they can pay for this with the money they get from the gouverment.


    On a serieus note. How much money do they get ? I don't think its that much but who am I to simply say such a thing.

    Also about the errors. Any idea how many errors would be made if all of the paperwork was proted to a database ? I bet its going to cause a HUGE problem .
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    Wether it's setting on an office shelf or digitized in a computer it doesn't matter to me. I thought every body had them scanned and digitized. Interesting. I saw an MRI on CD-ROM the other day, considered that the norm. Medium size to large corporation have gone to digital record storage because they consider it a less expensive alternative to paper storage.

    I don't see an issue with G.W. spending money to test the feasibility of electronic storage of records.
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    Zen the medical industry has already spent the money on HIPAA, any electronic records system (there are a number running around already) will be HIPAA compliant out of the box...there is a whole industry that has sprung up around making HIPAA compliant software, and a force of HIPAA consultants to make sure medical offices stay compliant. While there are some cost and tech leaps to still be made in the quest for completely electronic medical records HIPAA costs are not among them its already factored in. Trust me I have spent the last few years in big pharma IT HIPAA rules and regs are some of the easier hoops to jump through, and stuff that any sane company with sensitive data would do.

    MoonWolf: All of the data is probably already in a DB, they just keep the paper around as well (this is actualy the major problem, all of our important data was kept in electronic format with electronic signatures...and in a paper copy with signatures as a duplicate set a true wast of space.). Movieng to erecords will cut down on the errors greatly as things get centralized. Have you ever tried to read a doctors handwriteing?
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    Originally posted here by bballad
    Zen the medical industry has already spent the money on HIPAA, any electronic records system (there are a number running around already) will be HIPAA compliant out of the box...there is a whole industry that has sprung up around making HIPAA compliant software, and a force of HIPAA consultants to make sure medical offices stay compliant. While there are some cost and tech leaps to still be made in the quest for completely electronic medical records HIPAA costs are not among them its already factored in. Trust me I have spent the last few years in big pharma IT HIPAA rules and regs are some of the easier hoops to jump through, and stuff that any sane company with sensitive data would do.
    Good point...besides being smothered by dead tree's every time I go for a medical appointment (please sign here, and here, and here, and read this, and......), I've done nothing with HIPAA really. Good to know we have a resident 'expert'.
    "Data is not necessarily information. Information does not necessarily lead to knowledge. And knowledge is not always sufficient to discover truth and breed wisdom." --Spaf
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    as much as two days of HIPAA training makes someone an expert (did you know that if you sign your name with a gel pen its not officially a signature as someone could lick it off the page). Trust me if you think your paperwork is bad see what we have to do on our side just to install an app that might touch your data. Now is was with one of the largest companies in this field, im sure one doctor shops or what not have a little more of a fly by the seat of the pants type of environment... but none of their stuff touches any of our stuff unless its HIPAA compliant (that basically boils down to being well encrypted and digitally signed). As for your medical records, every doctors office in the country uses software that came from a handful of companies to do the recordkeeping/billing (the systems are tied together) you see the records have to be kept in a format that the insurance agencies will take, only a few places make this software and they all take security seriously as well as data integrity.

    Remember in the medical world malpractice is the name of the game...if your records are wrong and it causes a doctor to screw up...well if its some piece of software’s fault they better expect a lawsuit...if a phone message doesn’t get to the doctor on call the message service better expect a lawsuit....if your records get modified by a hacker and it causes medical complications...well the maker of the insecure software better expect a lawsuit. This is why most systems with sensitive data never touch the internet even through indirect means, if something goes wrong in the medical field it costs a lot of people a lot of money


    Now in my field we also had the joy of dealing with FDA regulations and audits…until you see armed men come rushing into a plant (all with the legal jurisdiction of a federal marshal) condemn, quarantine on site and then destroy by burning a shipment of questionably purchased human livers, well you haven’t seen the true level of bureaucratic power our government has.
    Who is more trustworthy then all of the gurus or Buddha’s?

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    BBallad:

    HIPAA isn't as bad as many make out.... In fact the clarification statements made during the process rely _very_ heavily on the fact that they aren't intended to hinder the "process". The HIPAA regs actually do a pretty good job, (disregard the fact that they wrote the privacy portion before they wrote the security portion... That's Gubmint... ), of trying to allow the "practice" of healthcare to continue unfettered while "alerting" those who didn't understand that there are consequences to allowing personal confidential data to "leak" into the public domain that there is a problem.

    We have an issue with a funding source right now that has complete morons running their IT... Actually, they are complete morons from the boss man down, but that is a whole other subject..... They are insisting on certain things in terms of file format.... Yep, it's the crux of the "portability" part, I understand that.... but they are insisting that we follow the format... Now, here's the "fun" part... They want us to provide them, per the file format, with information we don't hold.... They do.... But, they won't give us that information because _we_ aren't entitled to see it.... Which is fair.... But then, if we don't provide that information - we don't get paid for services provided!!!!!

    Can you see how foxxing idiots are going to mess up perfectly good piece of legislation? I can....
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