The UT Health Science Center's Gulf Coast Regional Extension Center is helping primary care doctors develop electronic medical records systems. Dr. Kim Dunn says that can help, for example, when hurricanes strike. Elderly and special care patients can be attended to in a more efficient way when there are evacuations.
"So what we're particularly focused on is how we can develop the infrastructure to assist medical special needs patients for continuity of care during those kinds of things. Well, the primary care practitioners are going to be the ones who know who those folks are and and share information that's appropriate that's private and secure so that their care is coordinated and that in the event of a disaster there's a continuity of care plan for those patients, should they have to go to a medical special needs shelter or they leave town to go to another city such as San Antonio."
Federal funding to ramp up electronic medical records systems is being made available for those doctors who handle Medicaid or Medicare patients.
"If they see a lot of Medicaid or Medicare patients they would be able to be eligible for financial incentives for implementing the technology. If a doctor enrolls for services, then we assign a technical consultant to help that practitioner select an EMR. We assess what their workflow is and then help them through the contracting process, then we help line up the funding so that they can buy the systems and implement them into their practice. And then we help them to achieve meaningful use so that they're eligible for those financial incentive dollars."
The federal funding can help physicians make the most of an existing system or install a new one. An enrollment period for eligible practitioners is underway, and more information is available at the upcoming Texas Health IT Summit September 30th through October 2nd at the Westin Oaks.