In this “People Behind the Policies” blog, we hear a doctor talk about his everyday experiences and how it’s impacted by this goal: Establish best in the nation statewide health information exchange and electronic health records adoption by the end of 2012.
“Health IT” (Health Information Technology) – we hear the term used often, but does it really make a difference in how patients are cared for? Can it really make it safer for patients? Can it lead to more affordable health care? With confidence I can answer “Yes” to all three of these questions.
As a practicing Emergency Physician, I often do not have access to very relevant clinical data that could help guide patient care. Nearly 80 percent of patients presenting to an Emergency Department arrive during hours which most primary care physician offices or clinics are closed. While an “on call” provider can often be reached, they are often not the primary provider aware of a patient’s condition, and rarely will recall the details of a specific lab test or radiographic study that was ordered. Similarly, obtaining medical records from other health care facilities is tedious, inefficient, and often not rapid enough when critical decisions need to be made. CRISP ( Chesapeake Regional Information System for our Patients) – Maryland’s Health Information Exchange – has dramatically changed this.
For many years I have been fortunate to work in a hospital that has a full integrated Electronic Health Record, allowing almost instant access to the information on patients previously seen in my facility. Now, through CRISP, I have secure access to critical clinical information from other Maryland hospitals, physician offices, outpatient radiology centers, lab facilities, and pharmacies.
In some cases access to this data has allowed me to care for a patient without repeating previously complete laboratory or radiographic tests (saving time, money, and reducing radiation exposure). In other cases obtaining the discharge summary or operative report quickly from another hospital has redirected management of a critically ill patient.
Is Health IT, and specifically Maryland’s Health Information Exchange (CRISP) , the answer to all healthcare issues – of course not. But there is no question it has had a significant impact on many of our patients already, and with the expansion of Health IT I believe we will continue to improve care, reduce unnecessary testing, decreasing exposure to radiation, prevent unnecessary admissions, and improving our ability to coordinate follow up care.
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