Pennsylvania Begins Big Step Forward on Electronic Health Records, Patient Safety

Article ID: 510445

Released: 15-Mar-2005 7:30 AM EST

Source Newsroom: Pennsylvania Medical Society

Newswise — A consortium of 28 health care organizations plan to build the Pennsylvania electronic patient data network that will be tied into a national system so that patients and their doctors can securely access medical records from any part of the country.

Informally called the Pennsylvania e-Health Technology Consortium, the group says efforts to build and standardize a secure national electronic medical record network will improve patient safety, save on health care spending, and help doctors treat patients faster.

Founded by Quality Insights of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Medical Society, the consortium was sparked by President Bush's call for the health care community to switch from paper to electronic health records within 10 years.

"This consortium will play a major role in the development of Pennsylvania's infrastructure that eventually will move the state light years ahead into the future of health care," said Donald F. Wilson, M.D., medical director of Quality Insights of Pennsylvania based in Wayne, Pa. "This project will be part of a larger effort that will change the way medicine is practiced throughout the country."

As a quality improvement organization, Quality Insights of Pennsylvania has been charged by the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services to foster the Pennsylvania-based electronic networks, also known as Regional Health Information Organizations.

Others agree with Dr. Wilson, and add that the consortium will help patients and their doctors work together.

"Imagine a person from Central Pennsylvania visiting a relative in New Mexico," said William W. Lander, M.D., president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society in Harrisburg. "That person for some reason gets violently sick and is rushed to the local emergency room. Once this network is built, that individual's health records essentially travel with him. Emergency medicine physicians at the hospital in New Mexico would be able to securely access the patient's records to learn what conditions he may have or what medications he takes."

The consortium started meeting on March 10 at the Pennsylvania Medical Society and hopes to have a statewide summit in Harrisburg this July to move the project another step forward. Details such as standardizing software and ensuring data security are important concerns for the group.

"We need to build an infrastructure that both patients and doctors can trust," said Tania Lyon, Ph.D., of the Pittsburgh Regional Healthcare Initiative. "The ability to coordinate care across different locations must be balanced by a guarantee of privacy to all patients. Medical data must be secure."

David B. Nash, M.D., chair of the Department of Health Policy at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, adds, "This system is the future. And, it will benefit everyone " patients, doctors, hospitals, employers, and insurers. Look for it to revolutionize the American health care system."

Those organizations attending the consortium's initial meeting on March 10, 2005 included

AllHealthDelaware Valley Healthcare CouncilGeisinger Health SystemHealth Information Management Systems SocietyHospital & Healthsystem Association of PennsylvaniaJackson GastroenterologyJefferson Medical CollegeKePROLoyalsock Family PracticeMedical Associates of the Lehigh ValleyOffice of Pennsylvania Senator Jake CormanPennsylvania Academy of Family PhysiciansPennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development, Office of Technology InvestmentPennsylvania Department of HealthPennsylvania Department of Public WelfarePennsylvania Health Care AssociationPennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment CouncilPennsylvania Medical SocietyPennsylvania Patient Safety AuthorityPittsburgh Regional Healthcare InitiativePMSCO Healthcare ConsultingQuality Insights of PennsylvaniaTemple University HospitalUniversity of Pennsylvania Health SystemUniversity of Pittsburgh Medical CenterUniversity of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation SciencesWellspan HealthWest Virginia Medical Institute


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