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One Click Away – Your Health Record

The United States Government has a plan that by the year 2014, every person living within the United States will have an Electronic Health Record. This has the potential to change the way the health care system operates and it could also create a new demand for Health and Information Technology jobs. Madison is considered to have some of the most premiere doctors, technology, and hospital facilities in the nation, and arguably the world.

 

The implementation of electronic health records can be looked at in a few different ways. First, it would help the growing strategy of “going paperless”. According to the U.S. Healthcare Index, the healthcare industry uses an estimated 4.9 billion sheets of paper every year. It should be noted that as the population grows, there is the possibility that the number of sheets used per year will increase.

 

Many different branches and transactions for the healthcare field have already started the process of using electronic methods to process information, claims, etc. To support that, the US Healthcare Efficiency Index shows that approximately 3.9 billion sheets of paper are saved annually because of the electronic methods. Nearly half a million trees are said to be saved by not using the 3.9 billion sheets of paper.

 

So how much does 3.9 billion sheets of paper being saved calculate out in dollars and cents? The answer is somewhere around $23 million being saved by using electronic methods. Let’s also not forget the cost of storage for files in the healthcare field. It seems as if every document that is handled in a clinic gets filed away in that person’s chart, or folder. X-rays can be saved to a persons file and eliminate the fragile care and handling.

 

Another objective of electronic health records is to make the everyday tasks of doctors, nurses, surgeons, and anybody else in the healthcare field faster and easier to handle and understand. The electronic health records would get rid of chasing paper trails if a patient sees a different doctor or happens to be in a different state. It would also prove effective if people change healthcare providers as hospitals would have immediate access to a patients records. Another scenario could be if a person moves to a different state or region. When that person changes doctors, their healthcare history will all come up on a chart. This can be crucial because the new doctor may not know any allergies, types drugs a patient has taken, quantities of drugs taken and so on. A number of health clinics have each patient room equipped with a computer and some even have portable computers as well. This all relates to making visits faster and easier for not only the doctors, but patients also.

 

With the government pushing for application of electronic health records, there are grants that have been given to colleges around the nation.
Madison College received a portion of these grants and have already started Health Information Technology (HIT) training for electronic health records. Madison College has two different HIT certifications that they train students in – “Implementation Support Specialist” and “Technology/Software Support Staff”.
The Midwest Community College HIT Consortium set a goal
of 300 students to be trained by Madison College. The consortium believes there could be upwards of 50,000 HIT job opportunities in demand over the next five years.

 

If this technology takes off as predicted, it would help decrease unemployment rates along with providing job opportunities to graduates of the program. This would more than likely increase enrollment at Madison College for the Health department. This would then trickle down to benefit local hospitals and clinics because of the high percentage of community college graduates that typically stay in the area and find a career.

 

The process of using electronic records is not easy and remains in the early stages of development. Electronic data is always susceptible to being hacked into. It is also time consuming to scan and organize all records that are currently on paper, not to mention the potential high cost associated with it. One last question remains unanswered – can all of the different healthcare providers get on the exact same page to avoid confusion and frustration when records get transferred?
By: Pete Patten
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