Government Technology

    Digital Communities
    Industry Members

  • Click sponsor logos for whitepapers, case studies, and best practices.
  • McAfee

Possibility of National Electronic Medical Records System Growing

June 25, 2008 By

In San Francisco, Accenture recently hosted the last of its three town hall meetings gauging citizen views on health-care challenges and solutions in partnership with the Council for Excellence in Government. The other two meetings occurred in Miami and Detroit. As health-care costs and the number of uninsured citizens climb, some form of government-supported universal health coverage is becoming more likely in the United States, according to panelists at the San Francisco meeting.

Universal health coverage could make a national electronic medical record (EMR) infrastructure critical to managing such a massive, complex health-care system. A national move to EMRs would create new business opportunities for the IT industry. These gatherings allowed Accenture to test the waters of citizen receptivity to a national EMR system. Meeting attendees have been surprisingly open to the EMR idea, said Ken Dineen, global managing director of Accenture's health industry practice. The company's polling data showed 79 percent support for EMR among Miami citizens, 59 percent in Detroit and 74 percent in San Francisco. Privacy and security concerns about such a system fuel the usual objections.

EMR advocates insist the common practice of transferring handwritten medical records between medical establishments is arcane. Dr. Paul Volberding, chief of medical service for the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, expressed that view on the event's panel.

"Can you imagine going to your bank and having them write out your account, keeping track of it by pen and paper, and then you go to another bank and they don't have that record? We wouldn't tolerate it, so why do we tolerate it in a health-care system that doesn't have the most basic thing, which is a national electronic medical records system?" Volberding said.

EMR advocates also argue that an electronic system would let doctors run treatment reports for patients similar to theirs, which would aid in better patient care. Those reports, EMR advocates say, would help doctors catch early symptoms before advancing to expensive treatment.

"It would give the whole system the ability to watch what's happening and how decisions are being made. Are providers providing high-quality care? Are they spending more resources than necessary given the patient's health-care needs? I don't think there is any question that it would bring down the cost of health care," Volberding said.

If any EMR opponents attended the meeting, they didn't voice their opinion on the topic.

Daniel Zingale, senior adviser to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, sat on the panel and advocated an electronic prescription system for the state. "We could reduce medical errors by about a third if we just went to electronic medical prescriptions instead of handwriting," Zingale said.

| More


Add Your Comment

You are solely responsible for the content of your comments. We reserve the right to remove comments that are considered profane, vulgar, obscene, factually inaccurate, off-topic, or considered a personal attack.

In Our Library

White Papers | Exclusives Reports | Webinar Archives | Best Practices and Case Studies
Digital Cities & Counties Survey: Best Practices Quick Reference Guide
This Best Practices Quick Reference Guide is a compilation of examples from the 2013 Digital Cities and Counties Surveys showcasing the innovative ways local governments are using technological tools to respond to the needs of their communities. It is our hope that by calling attention to just a few examples from cities and counties of all sizes, we will encourage further collaboration and spark additional creativity in local government service delivery.
Wireless Reporting Takes Pain (& Wait) out of Voting
In Michigan and Minnesota counties, wireless voting via the AT&T network has brought speed, efficiency and accuracy to elections - another illustration of how mobility and machine-to-machine (M2M) technology help governments to bring superior services and communication to constituents.
Why Would a City Proclaim Their Data “Open by Default?”
The City of Palo Alto, California, a 2013 Center for Digital Government Digital City Survey winner, has officially proclaimed “open” to be the default setting for all city data. Are they courageous or crazy?
View All