New Bill Proposes Electronic Medical Records

Electronic medical records have been slow to catch on in doctor's offices across the country. A bill working its way through Congress may kick-start the effort. The Senate approved the Wired for Health Care Quality Act last month and the House has two similar measures it is considering.

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President George Bush supports electronic medical records and has called for the elimination of paper records in a decade. Doctor Robert Turner is working with Kelsey-Seybold Clinic's electronic medical recored system. He says the conversion away from paper records is a project that he suspects will cover most of his career. But he says the benefits will be well worth it, for example the end of lost records. This also benefits patient safety. One example is catching conflicts in medications.

Some groups have expressed concern over patient privacy. Turner says electronic records will have the same type of protections financial institutions have for protecting account information. And privacy laws won't change just because the format has.

Plano family physician Doctor Christopher Crow is involved in discussions on the state level for how to pay for this technology to make it widely available. Crow says discussion is also focusing on developing standards so that when a national information technology system is developed the different practices will be able to talk to each other. The Texas Medical Association last month received a $1 million grant to help doctor's adopt electronic technology for records the motivation is to improve patient safety.

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